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Indianapolis panel speaks with Emmett Till's family, pushes for justice more than 60 years after murder

Till, 14, was brutally murdered in 1955 while visiting family in Mississippi following accusations he'd whistled at a white woman.

INDIANAPOLIS — Family members of Emmett Till spoke with organizers in Indianapolis Tuesday night to discuss their ongoing fight for justice for the boy's brutal murder a half-century later.

"We need to have the conversation so it doesn't happen again," said Elder Mmoja Ajabu, a founding member of the Veterans Association of African Descendants.

Till, a 14-year-old Black child from Chicago, was brutally murdered while visiting family in Mississippi following accusations he'd whistled at a white woman.

"Even though this happened in 1955, we can still find a way to get justice for that young boy," Ajabu said. 

Two of Till's killers were found not guilty by an all-white male jury.

A warrant was issued for the woman who had accused Till, Carolyn Bryant Donham, but the warrant itself was never served.

Tuesday night, community members from around Indianapolis came out to listen to attorneys and advocates. Even Till's cousin, Priscilla Sterling, joined the discussions over the phone from Mississippi to discuss the case. 

RELATED: Grand jury declines to indict woman in Emmett Till killing

Ajabu said it's critical to keep this push for justice alive.

"We want out of this forum to come a critical mass of people to contribute and say, 'What can we do?' in order to make justice for Emmett Till last," he said. 

"The organization and just African Americans period want justice. I'm hoping that this will help advance this discussion about the arrest of a woman who admitted her role in this horrendous crime and that justice will be served," said Eunice Potter, panel moderator and director of the Black Heritage Preservation Program with Indiana Landmarks. 

Trotter said the impact of Till's murder and the lack of justice or accountability for his killers continues to reverberate today. She said it's vital this case and others like it aren't forgotten, and better still, that these deaths don't happen in the first place.

"I think we should never forget," Trotter said. 

But they're not just talking, they're taking action to get justice. 

RELATED: Indianapolis native who reported on trial of men in Emmett Till case offers insight into ongoing calls for justice

Ajabu and others have worked to find Bryant Dorham in an effort to ensure the longstanding warrant against her is finally served. And they did identify her, showing video that appears to identify Bryant Dorham in Bowling Green, Kentucky more than 60 years after Till's murder. 

Credit: WTHR

Many here are hopeful that by continuing to push for and find new paths forward to justice, they can finally hold Till's murderers accountable and start to heal.

"A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Martin Luther King said that. We agree," Ajabu said. 

"Till," a movie about the pursuit of family members for justice in Emmett Till's murder will premiere this Friday. The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is also hosting an exhibit on Till's death, hoping to ensure what happened and the lack of consequences for those responsible continue to be remembered today.

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