Book Review Of A Death In The Delta:The Story Of Emmett Till By Stephen J.Whitfield

4753 words - 19 pages

Slavery and Mississippi during the nineteenth and twentieth century went hand and hand. Along with this slavery came prejudice, bigots, racism, and perhaps the worst of all; lynching. Lynching was commonly accepted in the south during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Governors approved, sheriffs turned a blind eye, southern blacks accepted, and for the most part the rest of the United States ignored it. Lynching in the south was seen as check on society, not a criminal offence it helped keep 'those niggahs in order.' However, there was one lynching in the summer of 1955 that the nation could not ignore; the press, NAACP, and Mrs. (Mammie) Till Bradley made sure of this. The lynching sent shock waves through most of the United States provoking the first signs of the Civil Rights movement. The young man that was lynched during the summer of 1955 was Emmett Till, his crime was boastfulness, cockiness, and having a picture of a white girl in his wallet. For this he died, and unfortunately it took his death to wake up a nation that was caught up in it's own self righteousness.Lynching in the south was not simply an act of hatred against blacks. It was an act of paranoia. Whites in the south had a belief that black men could not keep their hands off white women. The most common reason for a lynching was the accusation of rape of a white woman by a black man. Southern whites believed race mixing would lead to a weak society. They saw blacks as inferior humans that were obsessed with sex. Therefore, lynching was seen as a necessary act that was intended not only to protect the white woman of the south, but also save society from ruin.The reason for Emmett Till's lynching has many interpretations. What we do know is that Emmett Till was black youth from Chicago who came to Mississippi in the summer of 1955 to visit his cousins for two weeks while his mother relaxed in Chicago on two weeks vacation from work as a voucher examiner in the Air Force Procurement Office. Emmett Till was known as a prankster, a risk taker, and a smart dresser. He was much different from his cousins in the way he was brought up, he did not fear whites and even boosted about having a white girlfriend back in Chicago whom he was intimate with. In fact, he had a picture of her in his wallet. These facts are what lead to his kidnapping and eventual death.One afternoon Emmett, his cousins, and several other black youth piled into an old car and drove to a convience store in Money, during the ride Emmett had been bragging about the white woman he had been with. Tending to the store was Carolyn Bryant, a petit woman of five feet, about a hundred pounds and a former beauty champ. One of the youths dared Emmett to proposition the store keeper hoping to call his bluff. Emmett was not bluffing. He went into the store brought a piece of bubble gum and asked Carolyn on a date. This is were many of the interpretations differ, some say Emmett grabbed her around the waist while...

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