Emmit Till Essay

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American Government
Monday and Wednesday 8:00
November 5, 2012

Emmett Till and the Civil Rights Movement by Haley Porcaro

Emmett Till and Civil Rights Movement by Haley Porcaro

Emmett Till was a fourteen-year-old boy who lived with his mother in Chicago in 1955. Emmett, a young black boy, was staying with his relatives for the summer in a small town called Money in Mississippi, which is funny considering the town was very poor. He was a great kid who would do chores for his neighbors and help his grandmother on the weekends. Since Emmett grew up in Chicago he didn’t really understand the Jim Crowe laws or culture of the south. At the time he was visiting, many white southerners were very angry about the impending segregation of public schools. They felt that northerners were getting involved where they didn’t belong. In Money the primary social activity was Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market. People would hangout on the stores’ front porch playing checkers and swapping stories. A young woman named Carolyn Bryant worked behind the counter while her husband was on the road hauling shrimp from New Orleans. One August night at around 7:30 Emmett and his cousins went to the market where the people were already gathering, and before long Emmett was the center of attention telling his stories of Chicago and dating white girls. One of the boys challenged Emmett to get a date with the young woman who worked behind the counter. She had won a couple of beauty contests, making her one of the best known woman in the area. The Chicago boy didn’t know the risk of talking to the young white woman, but all the Mississippi boys had heard stories of black men getting beaten or killed for getting to friendly or close to a white woman. Emmett wanting to be a big shot with his friends did not turn down the challenge. Whatever went down between Carolyn and Emmett was only known to them, however, “that night two men came to his door and said “I want the one who done the talkin’ in Money, is he here?” The two men took the boy to the car where Carolyn Bryant was sitting. The men said “Is this the boy?” and she said “Yes“.” (Crowe)1 Emmett Tills body was found three days later by a man fishing in the Tallahatchie River. He had been tortured before he was murdered. When Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till Mobley, found out her son was missing she alerted the Chicago police and the newspapers. The story gained national attention. As people found out about the murder of a black fourteen-year-old visitor, the incident put a spot light on Mississippi’s racism. The murder was one of the biggest news items of 1955. Thousands of mourners showed up at Emmett’s funeral. It was an open casket and the sight of his horribly disfigured corpse, which appeared in Jet Magazine, angered the nation. That’s how Emmett Till became the boy who triggered the civil rights movement. Three effects of Emmett Tills death were publicity, public outpouring of emotion and money for the civil rights movement. All these things moved people to action and were a catalyst for the following events. Emmett’s murder was one of the reasons NAACP member Rosa Parks gave for refusing to give up her seat in the front of the bus for a white passenger, which went onto inspire the Montgomery bus boycott, which Martin Luther King was instrumental in leading. In 1957 Martin Luther King organized the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, (SCLC), to organize the civil rights movement. SCLC worked for civil rights through non-violence and civil disobedience. MLK said “We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline”. In September 1957 an all white school in Little Rock, Arkansas refused to let in nine black kids through orders from the Governor. President Eisenhower sent in federal troops and the National Guard to escort the “Little Rock Nine”. The sit-ins at Woolworth’s lunch counter,