The Crusader Newspaper Group

UPDATE: Eyewitness who saw Emmett Till kidnapped dies

Crusader staff report

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Simeon Wright

Services are set for Simeon Wright, the cousin of Emmett Till. Wright died Monday, September 5. He was a longtime Chicago resident after Emmett was killed in 1955.

A visitation is planned from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 15 at Antioch Baptist Church, 7519 W. 64th St., in Summit-Argo. A wake is scheduled from 10 a.m. until an 11 a.m. funeral service on Sept. 16 at Monument of Faith Church, 2750 W. Columbia Ave., Chicago. Burial is at Parkholm Cemetery in La Grange Park.

He lived his life talking about a childhood that had been forever damaged by witnessing the brutal murder of his cousin Emmett Till. He was the last to see Emmett before two white men killed him. Now, Simeon Wright is with his childhood friend once again.

News reports said Wright suffered complications from a form of bone cancer.

After the men accused of killing Emmett were acquitted in September 1955, Wright and his family moved to west suburban Argo. He graduated from Argo High School in 1962 and reportedly began working as a pipe fitter. According to one news report, Wright lived quietly in various suburbs of Chicago.

In the final years of his life he became more vocal about what happened to him.

Sixty-two years ago, Wright was an eyewitness to Emmett Till’s murder in Money, Mississippi. While the murder fueled the Civil Rights Movement, it was also a killing that Wright sought justice for, but like Emmett’s mother Mamie Till-Mobley, never got.

At 12 years-old Wright was living in Money, Miss., when his cousin visited from Chicago in the summer of 1955. He was with Emmett, a bubbly 14-year from the Woodlawn neighborhood, whose nickname was “Bobo.” Wright was with Emmett when the boy allegedly whistled at Roy Bryant’s wife Carolyn Bryant, at the family grocery store. Days later, Wright and Emmett were sleeping when Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam entered the house with guns. Wright’s mother begged the men not to take Emmett and even offered them money, but the boy was abducted anyway.

Wright documented the kidnapping in his 2010 book “Simeon’s Story.” In it, Wright said that after Emmett was taken away, he never saw his cousin alive again.

“I must have stayed in the bed for hours, petrified,” Wright wrote.

Days later Emmett’s bloated and disfigured body was discovered in the Tallahatchie River. A 75-pound gin fan was tied to his neck. He had been brutally beaten and shot in the head. After Emmett’s body was shipped back to Chicago, his mother held an open casket funeral at the Robert Temple Church of God in Bronzeville, to show the world what the men had done to her son.

More than 100,000 Blacks attended the services. Gruesome photos of Emmett’s disfigured face were published in Ebony and Jet before they were seen in other publications in America and the world. Emmett was buried in Burr Oaks Cemetery.

Weeks after the funeral, an all-white jury acquitted Bryant and Milam of murdering Emmett. But months later, in Look magazine they confessed to the crime. Earlier this year, Carolyn Donham (she had since remarried) said she lied on the witness stand about Emmett grabbing her and asking her for a date. The Justice Department is assessing whether Donham’s statement would lead to a new investigation.

In 2007, a majority Black grand jury in Greenwood, Mississippi declined to bring charges against Bryant. The FBI closed the case that was opened in 2004.

Emmett’s mother Mamie Till-Mobley died in 2003 after a fruitless, lifelong pursuit of justice for her son.

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