Emmett Till's family seeking casket

July 10, 2009 at 2:26 PM
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ALSIP, Ill., July 10 (UPI) -- The family of Emmett Till says it wants to relocate a casket that once held the late civil rights icon's body from a cemetery in Alsip, Ill.

Simeon Wright, a cousin of the slain black teenager, said his family learned the casket that once held their late relative had been discarded and neglected at Burr Oak Cemetery, the Chicago Tribune said Friday.

Till was killed at the age of 14 in rural Mississippi in 1955 after whistling at a white woman and his slaying was regarded as a catalyst for the U.S. civil rights movement. The casket that originally held Till's body was replaced after the teen's body was exhumed in 2005 as part of an investigation into his death.

Wright said a Burr Oak Cemetery office manager allegedly vowed to preserve the original casket, but now his family has learned the funerary item has sat neglected in a storage room.

"It never occurred to me that something like this would happen," Wright said. "You don't expect dishonesty in a cemetery -- maybe a house of ill repute, but not at a cemetery."

The Tribune said Till's relatives want a civil rights museum to take possession of the casket to keep it properly preserved.

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