During the last two months, I have found it very necessary to talk in God quite a few times. When I first found out that Emmett was kidnapped. I was just so upset and so shocked I didn’t know what to do.

So having been dependent on my mother most of my life, the first thing that Idid was to call her. 

I thought that when I got to mother’s house, she could take care of everything. She could handle it. This would be another burden that I could dump on her.

When I got to mother’s house, she had started making numerous telephone calls and she had found out nothing. We stood there. We sat there. We wanted for two or three days trying to find out what happened to Emmett. 

During these two or three days, I looked at my mother and saw that she was failing.

I was sitting at the telephone one night. I saw her walk through the dining room toward the front room.

She weakened as she got there and fell to the floor. I noticed as she passed me. I was getting stronger as she was getting weaker. It kind of startled me.

When she fell, I jumped up to run in there and put my hand on her and all of a sudden it seemed that something told me that if you touch her, you’ll take her strength so fast, it’ll kill her.

So I stood there, I asked the others to let her alone. She’ll be all right, I said and turned around and took my seat at the telephone.

Mamie Bradley (AFRO File Photo)

I had been answering the phone night and day, taking messages and trying to send messages. 

And that’s when I realized, for the first time in my life, I was going to have to stand up on my feet and be a woman. A real one…

And finally on Wednesday, with the presses working and everybody working the news finally came through.

Emmett Till’s body had been found in Mississippi.

The news came through a girl friend of mine. She knew that she should have called earlier, but just didn’t feel that she should break the news.

So when she called she was reluctant to talk. She didn’t want to talk to me at all. But I insisted that she give me the message. Whatever it was. I could take it.

She did and I wrote down what she told me. As I sat there. I suddenly divided into two different people. One was handling the telephone. The other was standing off telling the other what to do, or helping me to keep myself under control.

And this second person told me you don’t have time to cry now — you might not have time to cry tomorrow.

You can’t cry at anytime. Don’t worry about that because there’s something you’ve got to do. There are a whole lot of people out there that are going to do the crying for you.

If I should even cry the rest of my life, there wouldn’t be enough tears for Emmett Till.

For Emmett Till was just an ordinary boy, like your ordinary boys and girls you have here.

He had made his mark in a way because his heart was generous and the people in the neighborhood liked him.

He was a well-mannered child. He wasn’t on a higher level than anybody else. He was just Mr. John Doe, Emmett Louis Till, an American.

He didn’t realize that because he was colored, he was at a disadvantage.

He had been taught that you are what you..what you are taught to be and what you make yourself because that’s the way I had trained him.

He never guessed that a “yes” or “no” answer would cost him his life.

When I found out that Emmett had been discovered, we got ourselves together, held ourselves in check a little while and started making these other calls back to Mississippi.

To our surprise, we found that it wasn’t going to be an easy job to get his body shipped back here.

The sheriff at Money had ordered my uncle Mose to immediately bury that body.

He had also called a colored undertaker who rushed to the scene with a box, a box covered with some gray flannel material.

They picked up that body from the river bank and threw it in that box. They herded it away to the cemetery…

By the time he (Mose) got there, the funeral had been preached and two men were digging a grave to bury my son’s body. He told them they would have to stop. “I have to take that body up north.”

The sheriff was rather surprised or maybe he wasn’t.

I don’t know what the situation was at that time. But my uncle had the presence of mind to call a white undertaker and ask him if he would handle that body, embalm it and fix it for shipment.

The colored undertaker told my uncle, “I’ll tell you the truth. I don’t dare let that body stay in my establishment over night.”

He said if he did, “I wouldn’t have any place in the morning and perhaps I wouldn’t be alive by morning.”

Excerpted from Mrs. Mamie Bradley’s speech delivered for an NAACP rally at Bethel AME in Baltimore on Oct. 29, 1955. The full text appears in the Nov. 12, 1955 edition of the AFRO. See more on AFRO.com.