NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire V. 16.1 - Page 106

104 “Apologies for the mess,” she said, “but we’re still under construction.” We followed her into a large room filled with rows of folding chairs and a screen. Two young men in sawdustcovered work clothes, white filter masks around their necks, stood silently by a doorway. It was concrete cold. Seated, we watched a short film about Glendora, covering both the horror of Till’s murder but also the career of the village’s native son, blues harmonica player Alex or Aleck Miller, better known as Sonny Boy Williamson. We also learned that the large man who had been seated at the desk when we entered, and who was now speaking in low tones to the young men behind us, was the current mayor of Glendora, Johnny B. Thomas, founder of the museum and a relative of Williamson. Following the film, we toured the museum’s still-evolving exhibition space. As in most of the small museums we visited in our drive through the Delta, such as the excellent new one in Indianola devoted to B.B. King, there was a fairly even division of space between whatever local individual or struggle or incident was the museum’s primary focus, and a general history of the southern Civil Rights Movement. I was already familiar with the broad contours of what had happened to Till from the time his mother Mamie put him, along with his uncle Moses Wright and older cousin Wheeler Parker, on the southbound train at Chicago’s 63rd Street Station to his arrival in nearby Money, Mississippi, Wright’s home; from his alleged wolf-whistle at the cashier of Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market to his abduction by proprietor Roy Bryant and his half-brother, J.W. Millam, in the early hours of August 28, 1955. “GLENDORA, MS, JANUARY 2015” PHOTOGRAPHS BY LADY PEREZ. LARGE FORMAT ANALOG TO 35MM DIGITAL TRANSFER. Back in the car, we followed the railroad tracks and found ourselves at a large, corrugated steel building, nestled next to a Quonset hut filled with farm equipment between tracks and fields. A hand-lettered sign told us this was the Emmett Till Historic Intrepid Museum, or ethic. There was one other car, with out-of-state plates, in the soaked parking lot. The shriek of a Skil-saw came from somewhere inside. A small, unmarked door let us into a slightly warmer room that seemed, when we entered it, to be full of people. There were two young white women standing before a desk, at which sat a heavyset, middle-aged black man talking earnestly to them about a historian whose name I recognized. The other visitors, whom we would meet later that night in a juke joint in Clarksdale, left. The man who had been speaking to them disappeared through another entrance, the sound of the saw rising in pitch as the door opened and closed behind him. A young woman greeted us and took the five-dollar admission fee. The fVFF"fFv6VWGBF( 2&GB&VV&VBvF&&&VBv&R&Vf&R&VpF&vFFRV&'&6&R6RFBW2B&VVFVg&ЧF2'VFrࠠ