The mother of one of the best-known slaying victims of the civil rights era joined the call today for more investigation into a black teenager’s hanging in Mississippi.
Mamie Mobley, 78, of Chicago said she hoped to give emotional support to Maria Johnson, whose 17-year-old son Raynard was found dead last month hanging from a tree in his family’s front yard.
A medical examiner has ruled the death a suicide, though Johnson’s family, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and other supporters believe he may have been killed for befriending two white girls.
The FBI and state authorities are continuing to investigate Johnson’s death.
Unforgotten Slaying Mobley’s 14-year-old son, Emmett Till, was killed in Mississippi in 1955, apparently for whistling at a white woman.
The black teenager was on a visit from Chicago when he was dragged from a relative’s house late at night, beaten and shot. His body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River several days later.
Two white men, including the husband of the woman who drew Till’s whistle, were charged with the killing but acquitted at trial.
Mobley said she knows what Johnson’s mother is going through.
“I haven’t gotten over Emmett’s death, so I know what she’s facing,” Mobley said. “It’s going to be a long journey, but with the help of God, we’re going to make it.”
Tour For Justice Sitting in a wheelchair because of a recent illness, Mobley joined Jackson at The Civil Rights Museum in Memphis as he and an entourage began a trip through Mississippi to draw attention to Johnson’s death.
Jackson said he also planned to discuss during a tour across the state what he called a suspicious number of suicides in recent years in Mississippi jails.
Jackson said residents across Mississippi should demand more thorough investigations into incidents like Johnson’s death and the suicides of jailed prisoners.
“I say let’s turn this crisis into an opportunity where the new Mississippi and the new South begin to fight on the issue of wrong or right, not just black and white,” Jackson said.
Jackson’s trip, which runs through Sunday, was to include meetings with top state officials as well as several public rallies.