It’s time America provided justice for Emmett Till

“Justice is like a train that is nearly always late.” –Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Although we are reasonably certain the famous Soviet and Russian poet, novelist, essayist, dramatist and screenwriter was referring to something else altogether when he wrote those words, the concept could certainly apply to what’s going to unfold in the near future in and around the state of Mississippi.

That’s because the U.S. Department of Justice, perhaps prodded by the publication of a new book on the subject, has officially reopened the investigation into the murder of Emmett Till, the black teenager who was killed in 1955.

Justice department officials confirm the receipt of “new information” in the Till case but declined to say more. “The Blood of Emmett Till,” a book that says a key figure in the case acknowledged lying about events preceding the slaying, hit stands and online sites earlier this year. In it, author Timothy B. Tyson, quotes a white woman, Carolyn Donham, as acknowledging during a 2008 interview that she wasn’t truthful when she testified that Till grabbed her, whistled and made sexual advances at a store in 1955, the Associated Press reported.

Two white men — Donham’s then-husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam — were charged with murder but acquitted in the slaying of Till, who had been staying with relatives in northern Mississippi at the time, according to AP.

The men later confessed to the crime in a magazine interview, but weren’t retried. Both are now dead.

But the long-cold case apparently isn’t, and that’s a very good thing.

The Till murder shocked the nation which was just beginning to face its racist past and present. The FBI, which has been taking a beating in recent months, has a new opportunity to get the Till investigation right. We trust the best agents and prosecutors will be involved.

A nation will be watching.