Emmett Till's Brutal Murder Jump Started The Civil Rights Movement

1578 words - 7 pages

Could you imagine a world where people could get away with murder just because the person was black? This was common during the Civil Rights movement in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Emmett Till, a 14 year old boy from Chicago, Illinois, was just one example of the cruelty and mistreatment of African Americans in the United States. His death and the acquittal of his killers was the spark that set off a movement that changed America forever. Emmett Till’s brutal murder jump started the Civil Rights Movement and was one example of how Jim Crow Laws affected the treatment of African Americans in the South.
For Emmett, growing up in Chicago was a safe haven that hid him from the cruel treatment of African Americans in the South. Emmett Louis Till was born on July 25, 1941 in Chicago, Illinois. He was the only child of Louis and Mamie Till. Emmett never met his father, who was killed while serving for the army in Italy. His family was later told that he was killed for raping two white women and killing another. Emmett was very close with his mother, and he took care of her the best he could. He was called “Bobo” or “Bo” by most of his friends and family. He contracted polio at the age of 5 but recovered with only a slight stutter. “Those who knew Till best described him as a responsible, funny, and infectiously high-spirited child.” (“Emmett Till Biography”) Emmett was always planning practical jokes and was very confident. He was also hard working and took on many domestic responsibilities at home. "Emmett had all the house responsibility," His mother later recalled. "I mean everything was really on his shoulders, and Emmett took it upon himself. He told me if I would work, and make the money, he would take care of everything else. He cleaned, and he cooked quite a bit. And he even took over the laundry." (“Emmett Till Biography”) It is very hard to understand why such a smart, responsible kid could be viciously murdered.
Jim Crow Laws were one major contributor to Emmett Till’s death. In most of the South, these laws were made to segregate African Americans from white people in education, healthcare, and all other aspects of society. In areas where Jim Crow was in effect, black men were not to interact with, flirt with, or even make eye contact with white women. For Emmett, this concept was new to him while he was visiting his family in Mississippi. He bragged to all his cousins that back home, he had white women knocking on his door. Although his mother warned him of the dangers he would face, he did not understand the consequences that came with the failure to follow the law. On August 24, 1955, Emmett entered Bryant’s Grocery to pick up some refreshments with his cousins. Carolyn Bryant was working at the cashier’s counter. Till was reported to have whistled at or flirted with her. In fear, she ran out to her car to grab a gun while Emmett sped off with his family. Four days later, Carolyn’s husband Roy Bryant, J. W. Milam,...

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