Emmett Till Not Politically Active Innocent Intelligent Not a Civil Rights Activist
When his mom let him visit his uncle in Money, Mississippi, Emmett and some friends hung out at this market where Emmett would talk about the north, joke of a white girl being his girlfriend and talk to the lady in the store as a dare in which he was accused of whistling at her. The woman turned out to be the wife of the owner who would here of the news as it spread like lightning.
Roy Bryant and his half brother JW Milam then decided to “teach the boy a lesson” as Roy felt his wife’s image was tainted by the incident so they planned to meet at 2:00 am.
MoseWright would then tell reporters what happened next: “Sunday morning about 2:30 someone called at the door. And, I said ‘who is it,’ and he said, ‘this is Mr. Bryant. I want to talk with you and the boy.’ And when I opened the door, there was a man standing with a pistol in one hand and a flashlight in the other hand.” The men forced their way into Emmett’s bedroom where he was sleeping and took him to their car. They beat him severely enraged he had a picture of a white woman in his wallet. They shot him and threw him in a river where his body was found a few days later .
A fisherman found his body three days later in the Tallahatchie River which to the surprise of many, the men were charged of kidnapping and then murder was added to the charges.
The trial was held in an all white courtroom and despite ample evidence it lasted only one week, “the case was lost before it began.” In the closing remarks one of the defense attorneys' told the jurors “every last Anglo Saxon one of you men in this jury has the courage to set these men free.” On September 23, 1955 the jury declared Bryant and Milam innocent after only deliberating for one hour. MoseWright, as a witness, was one of the first times African Americans accused a white of a crime in a Mississippi court of law. He had to leave the state immediately after.
Mamie Till held an open casket funeral for her son so people around the world could see “what they did to my boy”. He had a bullet hole in his head and his face was battered beyond recognition while his body was decomposing after several days in the river. Jet Magazine published an article about the murder with a photo of Emmett’s body. The editor, John Johnson said “ The issue, which went out on sale on September 15, 1955, sold out immediately and did as much as any other event to traumatize black America and prepare the way for the freedom movement of the sixties. A young black woman who would be influenced by the murder said “all of us remembered the photograph of Emmett Till’s face, lying in the coffin, in Jet magazine . . . That galvanized a generation as a symbol- that was our symbol- that if they did it to him, they could do it to us”
Former NAACP official- “The Emmett Till case became a cog in the wheel of change.” Charles C Diggs Jr.-“The Emmett Till trial is over, but we, as Negroes, should never forget its meaning. The fact that Milam and Bryant were acquitted shows us how tremendous a job we face to bring complete democracy to our entire nation. Negroes and other clear thinking Americans must combine their efforts to press for freedom and equality through both political and legal challenges.” David Halberstam- “The first great media event of the civil rights movement.” Chris Crowe- “The civil rights movement gained the momentum necessary to break free from the social bondage that had enslaved Blacks since before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.”
When Emmett Till was at gunpoint from two strangers he was challenged by Milam saying “You still as good as I am,” Emmett’s response to this was “Yeah.” The case was the main reason that many African Americans acted out as to what they felt was the American Dream: equality.
Works Cited Crowe, Chris. Getting Away with Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case. New York: Phyllis Fogelman Books, 2003. Print. Crowe, Chris. “The lynching of Emmett Till.”The History of Jim Crow. Web. 5 April 2011. “The Lynching of Emmett Till: The horrific death of a Chicago teenager helped spark the Civil Rights Movement.” Heroism.org. Web. 5 April 2011. “The Emmett Till Case, 1955.” DIScovering U.S. History. Gale Research, 1997. Reproduced in Discovering Collection. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale Group. October, 2011. Web. 5 April 2011.