The trial of J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant began in September of that year in a Mississippi State Court with an all-male, all-white jury, because African-Americans and women were banned from serving. African-Americans were packed in a specific section of the courtroom balcony; the defendants' families were seen laughing and joking with the prosecution and the jury. Moses Wright did the unthinkable in 1955 Mississippi, as an African-American, he openly accused the white defendants in public court of murdering his nephew. Afterward, Moses Wright was run out of town for his actions in court.

J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant were acquitted of the murder of Emmett Till, and Bryant celebrated his acquittal with his wife in front of the cameras outside the courthouse. Milam and Bryant candidly confessed their torture and murder of Emmett Till, Milam did so on the record, to Look Magazine for $4,000. Many historians regard the murder of Emmett Till as the true spark of the civil rights movement. One-hundred days later, Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white patron and the modern civil rights revolution began.

No other charges were filed against Bryant, Milam, or any other person in connection with Till's kidnapping and murder.  Roy Bryant died in 1994, and J.W Milam died in 1981. Mamie Till, who died on January 6, 2003, moved back to Chicago, taught, and continued to talk about her son Emmett's murder; and expressed her wishes for a full Federal investigation.