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Murder of Emmett Till Essay

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Emmett Till was a fourteen year old boy who lived in Chicago. He was very outgoing and friendly with everyone he met. After his uncle, Moses (Moh-ss) Wright, came up to visit, he took Emmett and his cousin down to Money, Mississippi. Before he left, his mother informed him that life is very, very different for blacks in the South and the way he acted at home could not be the same as how he acted down there. He didn’t believe her warnings.

As Emmett and his mother got to the train station Emmett ran for the train in haste as to not miss his ride. Mamie Till, his mother, yelled to him “Emmett, aren’t you gonna say good bye? What if I never see you again?” Emmett said, “Awhh mama.” Then he gave her a kiss on the cheek and handed her his watch so that she had part of him while he was away.

She asked about his father’s ring and he said he was, “going to show it off to the boys” and was on his way without regard to his mother’s warnings.

Money, Mississippi was just a stretch of road with a post office on one end and Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market at the other. Bryant’s sold cool drinks to passing field workers and candy to the neighborhood children. So African Americans were often regulars. As Mamie had said, the south was like a whole other world compared to Chicago. In the south, when a white woman would walk down the sidewalk and a black man was walking towards her, he would have to get off the sidewalk and look at the ground because a black male can never look a white woman in the eyes. Blacks weren’t even allowed to enter through the front doors of white businesses.

Moses Wright worked on a field picking cotton. He lived in a small shack on the plantation that he worked for. There were only three small rooms in the shack so everyone squeezed in to the available beds. Emmett had to sleep with his cousin in one room; Moses was in another and in the other room, Wheeler Parker, Emmett’s close cousin and the others. While there Emmet and his cousins would help Moses in the field. On August 24, the boys drove into town from the field and went in to Bryant’s Grocery to get candy and drinks. Emmett went in and purchased two cents worth of bubble gum and on the way out turned back to Carolyn Bryant, the wife of the owner of Bryant’s Grocery, and whistled to her. She was furious and ran out to chase the boys, so they got in the car and drove off to their uncle’s house. While driving home Emmett begged his cousins not to tell Moses of the events that occurred. After three days, the boys forgot about the whole scenario.

On the fourth night, at about 2:30 am while everyone lay asleep in bed, Roy Bryant, Carolyn’s husband, and his brother J.W. Milam broke into the house. They went into the first room to find Moses sleeping and woke him, shinning a flashlight in his eye and holding a rifle to his head and asked where Emmett was. Moses pleads for them to leave the boy alone but they did not listen and went into Emmett’s room and kidnapped him. Days went by with no word, so as does most blacks when someone goes missing, they started to check around the Tallahassee River, to try to find his body. Days later, a young man fishing in the Tallahatchie reported Emmett’s body floating in the nearby weeds. When Moses went to identify the body, the only way he could verify that it was Emmett, was by his father’s ring that was on his finger.

Both men were arrested and set to be tried in the Tallahatchie County Court in September of 1955 for the murder of Emmett Till. The friends of Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam as well as other white families collected money to buy every lawyer they could for the two. When it came to the trial the defenses main strategy was that the body could not be identified as Emmett Till. They claimed that Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam let him go alive. Any Black people that came forward with information for the prosecution mysteriously disappeared so most remained neutral to avoid having the same fate. The two men were acquitted and set free, Mamie Till sent to higher courts and even President Eisenhower, who all refused to investigate further. After the trail Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam sold their story about what they did to Look Magazine.

They made Emmett carry a 75-pound cotton-gin fan to the bank of the Tallahatchie River and ordered him to take off his clothes. They beat him nearly to death, gouged out his eye, shot him in the head, and then threw his body in; with the cotton-gin fan tie around his neck with barbed wire, his body sank into the river. After the story was published and the government did nothing about it, Mamie Till and All African Americans in America, realized the magnitude of their predicament. They knew that their rights as humans were at risk. Thus, the murder of Emmett Till became renowned as the spark that began the Civil Rights Movement.

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