Had you any idea that Emmett Till’s final words were some of boldest in American history?
Milam: “You still as good as I am?”
Milam: “You still ‘had’ white women?”
Keep in mind that that’s after two grown men had tortured him for hours. Milam would later say that, following that exchange, he had no choice but to kill the 14-year-old boy:
“Well, what else could we do? He was hopeless. I’m no bully; I never hurt a n*gger in my life. I like n*ggers—in their place—I know how to work ‘em. But I just decided it was time a few people got put on notice. As long as I live and can do anything about it, n*ggers are gonna stay in their place. N*ggers ain’t gonna vote where I live. If they did, they’d control the government. They ain’t gonna go to school with my kids. And when a n*gger gets close to mentioning sex with a white woman, he’s tired o’ livin’. I’m likely to kill him. Me and my folks fought for this country, and we got some rights. I stood there in that shed and listened to that n*gger throw that poison at me, and I just made up my mind. ‘Chicago boy,’ I said, ‘I’m tired of ‘em sending your kind down here to stir up trouble. Goddam you, I’m going to make an example of you—just so everybody can know how me and my folks stand.’”