The murder of Emmett Till was a reminder of to the blacks in the North, as well as in the South of the severe segregation being experienced by the blacks. Emmett Till visited relatives near Money, Mississippi in August of 1955. Before he left Chicago his mother, Mamie warned him about how different Mississippi was about race and segregation. In Mississippi over 500 blacks had been lynched since 1882. There were also other racial tensions such as Brown vs. Board of Education and the Ku Klux Klan.
On August 24 th Till and Jones went to the Bryant’s grocery store to buy some candy, but before going in Till showed some local boys a picture of a white girl from back in Chicago and bragged that she was his girlfriend. The boys then bet Till to go in and talk to the white clerk in the store. After buying the candy Till either said ‘buy baby’ or whistled at Carolyn Bryant, the wife of the store owner. Four days later, early Sunday morning, Roy Bryant, Carolyn’s husband, and J. W. Milam, Roy’s half brother, came to Mose Wright’s, Emmett’s uncle, cabin and took Emmett with a pistol and a flashlight.
Write pleaded the men to just give Emmett a whipping, but instead the threatened Write that if he told anyone they would kill him. Three days later Till’s body was found in the Tallahatchie River, one eye missing, nose broken, hole in the side of his head, and tied to a seventy-five pound cotton gin fan with barbed wire. The only recognizable thing was an initialed ring that Emmett was wearing. NAACP labeled the murder as a lynching.
"If the Freedom Democratic Party is not seated now, I question American. Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, where we have to sleep with our telephones off of the hook because of our lives be threatened daily, because we want to live as decent human beings in America" Fannie Lou Hammer before the Democratic National Convention, 1964. Fannie Lou Hamer is best known for ...
The trial began September 19, 1955 in Sumner, Mississippi with an all white jury all from the defendant’s county. The defense was that the body found was not Emmett Till’s and that he was really hiding out in Chicago. The trial lasted for five days and the defenses closing argument was “Your ancestors will turn over in their grave, and I’m sure every last Anglo-Saxon one of you has the courage to free these men.” The jury deliberated for 67 minutes and found Milam and Bryant not guilty because the prosecution failed to prove that t he body found was Emmett Till’s. After the trial blacks boycotted the Bryant’s store which in turn forced them out of business. On January 24, 1956 Bryant and Milam sold their confession to Look Magazine for $4000, but were still never charged with Till’s murder.
Till’s murder helped prompt the civil rights movement. It was only a hundred days after Till’s death that Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus.