Belinda Stewart Architects celebrated nearly ten years of successful collaboration with Tallahatchie County and the Emmett Till Memorial Commission (ETMC) during our annual Christmas Party on December 19th. Our entire staff traveled to the Sumner Grille in Sumner, Mississippi to enjoy excellent food and friendship with the Tallahatchie Board of Supervisors, members of the ETMC, County Officials, and other prominent guests. Belinda was delighted to host an event that recognized the tireless work of the many people who undertook the daunting task of bringing the story of Emmett Till to life with the restoration of the Tallahatchie County Courthouse and other exhibits. Emmett Till’s violent death in August of 1955 galvanized the American public when details of his horrific ordeal were published in newspapers and magazines all over the United States and abroad. The vicious murder of this 14 year old boy was a catalyst that focused increased attention on racial segregation, inadequate law enforcement efforts, and Civil Rights. In many ways, Tallahatchie’s efforts to preserve this historic moment in our history has been instrumental in bringing the community together. The ETMC and the restoration and enhancement of the courtroom provide a living artifact within the historic courthouse to help interpret the civil rights movement in Mississippi related to the Emmett Till murder trial of 1955 and the subsequent events of the Civil Rights Movement in America.
The evening culminated in the presentation of several primary source documents (photos, newspapers, and Look, Newsweek and Jet magazines), collected by Belinda specifically to support the ETMC and in honor of the memory of Jerome Little, who helped form the Emmett Till Memorial Commission and who was one of the first African Americans to serve on the County Board of Supervisors. In addition, BSA staff members were afforded a personal tour of the Tallahatchie County Courthouse and the nearby ETMC exhibits. Being able to have our Christmas Party at an actual project site, with so many of the people who made this project possible was a fulfillment of our mission and we loved it! The Courthouse Restoration Project was only a small part of what Tallahatchie County has endeavored to achieve and we are very proud to be included in such a significant Reconciliation Effort.