He was with Emmett Till the night he was murdered. The horror haunts him still


Emmett Till; Rev Wheeler Parker Jr., Mississippi


The horror happened 67 years ago, but it never left the Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr. It never will.

There are times even now, when he will break down in tears when he describes what happened that night in Mississippi in 1955. Still, the story must be told.

“It changed my life,” said the 83-year-old Parker. “I promised God if he just saved my life, I was going to do right.”

Parker was just 16 years old when his cousin and best friend, 14-year-old Emmett Till, was lynched. Till’s murder would spur international outrage and propel the fight for justice and equality. Parker is the last living witness of the kidnapping.

This undated photo shows Emmett Louis Till, who was kidnapped, tortured and killed in the Mississippi Delta in August 1955 after witnesses claimed he whistled at a white woman working in a store.


Parker spoke to NPR as a part of Weekend Edition series shining a spotlight on the Civil Rights generation. In his new book, A Few Days Full of Trouble, Parker tells the story of Till’s death, but also of his life.


Ayesha Rascoe






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