Mildred Borden: “I’m not sure. I think that they could have done the autopsy 50 years ago. I just don’t trust the government. They could have did this 50 years ago. I do agree with Rev. Jackson: His mother identified his body 50 years ago. So what is the purpose now? I hope they catch the people that had a part in it. The two men already admitted to doing it, but if there are others, they need to be brought to justice. The woman who claimed he whistled is still living. I just don’t trust them. They said that the body is still in good condition. There are still some people walking around in their old age who know something and they didn’t do anything. The murderer of Medgar Evers was brought to justice after 35 years. It was too long in coming, but at least there was justice for his family.”
Patrice Ball-Reed (attorney): “I do believe it will have positive results because all those years ago when he originally was killed, there was controversy but there was no real discussion. There wasn’t a real investigation. There was no real dialogue about the issue that caused it to happen. And now all these years later, people know that they need to discuss it and to get somebody to apologize at the very least, even if they can’t prosecute someone to pay for what they did. At least now you have a discussion, you talk to people, and it makes people also think why did that happen, is it still happening now. It also gets young people involved where they know that this young man was killed for no good reason and that people will hate you enough just because of the color of your skin, and that the battle still wages and still goes on and they need to be involved in it. I think that is part of the positive results?”the discussion, the communication about the issues, young people being aware that history can repeat itself and you need to be aware of what transpired before you got here. You need to get on the bandwagon to help make sure we have positive results in the future.”
David R. Askew (attorney): “Having previously worked for the FBI while I was in law school, I recognized that there are many occasions where crimes have been committed generations ago, and it’s necessary to exhume bodies, to interview people whose memories have been shaded, to initiate investigations that had been long closed or had never been open before. I think the most positive result out of exhuming Emmett Till’s body is to let the community know that even on a tardy basis, the government, if given the motivation or given the necessary pushing by whoever it may be, will respond to the people who say that an injustice has been done and that it has not yet been resolved. So, though we may never find all of the people who were responsible for Emmett Till’s death, it is important to know that the government will respond to the people when the people say that we are not finished with something. I remember reading Death in the Delta about Emmett Till’s murder and the subsequent trial. I think it is important for historical purposes to answer the second question, ‘Should they have exhumed the body?’ If the people who represent Emmett Till dictate or demand that his body be exhumed, and if those people are his representatives, then they have every right to do what is right in their eyes.”
Juan R. Thomas (attorney): “My concern in the Emmett Till matter is what do we do if they come back and say it’s not Emmett Till. Then they would have to exhume his mother’s body. It has taken too long to get to this point. Maybe we should open the files of the FBI?”an investigation as to why the FBI didn’t properly investigate this case back in 1955 when this matter happened. Why has it taken over 50 years for this matter to get to this point? So I hope for a positive result. I hope we get to the bottom of this; there are a lot of unanswered questions. And another point?”there are a lot of current, modern-day hate crimes we need to be on top of as well that we’re not necessarily on top of. I urge our U.S. government and our Justice Department to be on top of modern-day hate crimes as well.”
Assata N. Peterson (attorney): “I’d be interested to see more of what they are looking for and what the real reasoning is behind exhuming the body. We already had two people confess to the murder, so what more is being looked for is what I’m interested in.”
AWN: Have you heard about black involvement?
“I haven’t heard about any blacks. I thought it was a hate crime, and it was some white men who did this and probably more then the two who admitted to it. It’s kind of hard for me to imagine what more they could be looking for. I think there are people who are still living who know a lot more than what they shared, and I’m not sure that we’ll ever completely know the truth of it. When a person dies, you like to see that they have peace and rest. It is kind of heartbreaking to see that the family has to go through this again, and it’s something that they have to relive again, so you do wish for peace, and in that vein, I hope that there is something positive that can be found from it. I’m just still searching for what that [might be] at this point.”
Carol Anne Harwell (1st vice president, NAACP): “I think exhuming Emmett Till’s body is a positive thing. I was a baby when this happened, but I remember the devastation and my mother continually speaking about the fact that she stood in line for hours to see his body. This is history. Emmett Till?”the name of the street is there [but] do the children really know what it means? So I think that it is a positive thing and I hope, I truly hope, that those that are still living who took part in this will go to prison. I don’t care if they’re 400 or 500 years old; justice has got to be served. His mother was a role model for all of us. She was a teacher, she was stern in her beliefs that justice should be done for her son, and that’s a legacy that she left that we should carry on for her. I think it was a positive thing to do. I think it will teach, and I hope the young people are looking at this because they take so much for granted nowadays. Our young black men think that it’s rough ‘driving while black.’ OK, whistling while black was deadly. I hope something comes of it. I hope justice is finally served, and I just hope that this part of history can be closed, that the remaining family will get some type of closure?”the remaining individuals who are the extended family of the Tills [the Mobleys]. But I think it was a positive thing, and I’m so truly glad and so grateful that it has finally taken place.”