"The Death of Emmett Till", also known as "The Ballad of Emmett Till", is a song by American musician Bob Dylan about the murder of Emmett Till. Till, a 14-year-old African American, was killed on...
"Twas down in Mississippi no so long ago,
When a young boy from Chicago town stepped through a Southern door.
This boy's dreadful tragedy I can still remember well,
The color of his skin was black and his name was Emmett Till.

Some men they dragged him to a barn and there they beat him up.
They said they had a reason, but I can't remember what.
They tortured him and did some evil things too evil to repeat.
There was screaming sounds inside the barn, there was laughing sounds out on the street.

Then they rolled his body down a gulf amidst a bloody red rain
And they threw him in the waters wide to cease his screaming pain.
The reason that they killed him there, and I'm sure it ain't no lie,
Was just for the fun of killin' him and to watch him slowly die.

And then to stop the United States of yelling for a trial,
Two brothers they confessed that they had killed poor Emmett Till.
But on the jury there were men who helped the brothers commit this awful crime,
And so this trial was a mockery, but nobody seemed to mind.

I saw the morning papers but I could not bear to see
The smiling brothers walkin' down the courthouse stairs.
For the jury found them innocent and the brothers they went free,
While Emmett's body floats the foam of a Jim Crow southern sea.

If you can't speak out against this kind of thing, a crime that's so unjust,
Your eyes are filled with dead men's dirt, your mind is filled with dust.
Your arms and legs they must be in shackles and chains, and your blood it must refuse to flow,
For you let this human race fall down so God-awful low!

This song is just a reminder to remind your fellow man
That this kind of thing still lives today in that ghost-robed Ku Klux Klan.
But if all of us folks that thinks alike, if we gave all we could give,
We could make this great land of ours a greater place to live.


Lyrics submitted by EZEebs

"The Death of Emmett Till" as written by Bob Dylan

Lyrics © BOB DYLAN MUSIC CO

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The Death of Emmett Till song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentThe picture was placed in the paper because Emmett's mother wanted the world to see what he really looked like, and how horrible it really was.
    coldpizzaon February 25, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentA true story about a fourteen-year-old boy who was killed for saying "Thanks, hon" to a female clerk as he left a convieniance store in Mississippi in 1955. A photograph of his dead face was placed in many northern newspapers, even though he had been shot in the head and one of his eyes were gauged out. Two men were acquited, even though they later admitted they were guilty, becuase the body was too mangled to properly identify. It was an important event because it generated a lot of sympathy from northern people for the plight of blacks in the south. Even though The Hurricane gets more press time, I think I like this Dylan song more.
    EZEebson January 25, 2006   Link

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