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Emmett Till’s Murder: an Eye-Opening Event

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Table of Contents

  • Section A: Plan of Investigation
  • Section B: Summary of Evidence
  • Section C: Evaluation of Sources Using OPVL
  • “The Murder of Emmett Till”
    "The Murder of Emmett Till." The Murder of Emmett Till. PBS. 1 (703) 739-5000, Arlington, Virginia, n.d. Television
  • Section D: Analysis
  • Section E: Conclusion

Section A: Plan of Investigation

The murder of Emmett Till has been discussed for 6 decades and has consistently been noted as the spark of the Civil Rights Movement. When Emmett Till was murdered and African-Americans from all across the country examined Till’s body after the incident and witnessing his murderers be acquitted, they became outraged and cohesively decided that this was the last straw and it was time for change. In order to guide my investigation toward focusing on the impact of Emmett Till’s murder, I will use a wide range of beneficial and informative sources, such as: websites, books, and documentaries. Following the supporting use of these sources, the articles: 1955 Killing Sparked Civil Rights Revolution: Emmett Till: South’s Legend by Allan Jalon and Legacy and The Murder of Emmett Till will be broken down and analyzed for origin, purpose, value and limitations.

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The manner in which Emmett Till was murdered will not be thoroughly discussed in this assessment, nor will the biography and background of Emmett Till be discussed.

Section B: Summary of Evidence

After Emmett Till was murdered, his mother, Mamie Till Mobley was advised to not display the body at his funeral or see his body at all because of how terribly bludgeoned and unrecognizable his corpse was.(PBS) When the body was shipped back to Chicago for the funeral, the funeral home owner promised the authorities that he would keep the casket closed, in order to ensure that the general public wouldn’t see the condition of his body. (PBS) Mobley refused to keep the casket closed because she wanted to see her son for one last time and upon her review of the body, she was devastated and outraged that her fourteen year-old son was left in such a horrid state. (PBS) After she was finished, the funeral home owner asked her if she wanted him to touch up the body and she said she wanted him to leave Emmett just as he was found, so the whole world could see what she saw. (PBS) Mamie Till Mobley put Emmett’s body on display, in order to vividly let the world know exactly what the effects of racism did to her child. Mobley held a display of Emmett’s body at a church in Chicago where thousands of adults appeared to see what had happened to a young black man. (History) When the individuals viewed the body, they were devastated and outraged at what happened and what they saw, it was said that for every 5 people that viewed the body, 1 had to be assisted out. (PBS) The African-Americans were upset at what happened. The African-American community, along with Civil Rights activists viewed this as an attack on the community as a whole and decided that it was time for change and that this kind of racist behavior was unacceptable. (Los Angeles Times) The murderers of Emmett Till, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam were charged with the kidnapping and murder of Emmett Till, but due to the conditions of the hearing including: an all-white male jury from the murderer’s home county and a judge who showed his alliance with the murderers, they were acquitted. (PBS) The acquittal was on the front page of newspapers across the world and the African-American community was outraged at how inhumane Emmett Till and the black community were being treated. (History)Because of this, the blacks donated money to hear Mamie Till Mobley speak on Emmett Till, which was when everyone began to realize that money could be raised for civil rights. (Los Angeles Times) The Emmett Till case was so powerful that it prompted whites to acknowledge that times have changed and racial violence like that of Emmett Till’s was not acceptable. (Los Angeles Times) After Till’s murderers were acquitted, the African Americans were outraged and held a series of rallies and protests battling discrimination. For example, three months following his death, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man and following that led a long series of various court cases, protests, boycotts and rallies, all for the purpose of establishing equality between the blacks and whites in America. Rosa Parks stated that “I thought of Emmett Till, and when the bus driver ordered me to move to the back, I just couldn’t move.” (Washington Post) Eventually, in 1964, the Civil Rights Act was passed, ending discrimination and segregation between blacks and whites.

Section C: Evaluation of Sources Using OPVL

“1955 Killing Sparked Civil Rights Revolution: Emmett Till: South’s Legend and Legacy”

Jalon, Allan. “1955 Killing Sparked Civil Rights Revolution : Emmett Till: South’s Legend and Legacy.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 07 Oct. 1985. Web. 26 Dec. 2015.

Allan Jalon published this article in October of 1985, discussing the murder and trial of Emmett Till and the way it influenced African Americans and Civil Rights activists alike. The Jim Crow laws and the relationship between the blacks and whites were permanently changed because of Emmett Till. Allan Jalon is an author and writer for the LA times whose topics are mainly concerned with history and how history has shaped the world we live in today.

The purpose of Jalon researching and detailing the impact of Emmett Till murder and trial is to inform the readers of what event sparked the Civil Rights Movement and forcibly opened up the eyes of the people in America of all races, white and black. Jalon’s use of evidence, quotes and eyewitness statements makes his delivery more effective and allows the reader to obtain the information along with facts from people who witnessed America’s shift after Emmett murder and trial. The effect of the impact and the power it has creates the idea and truth that this moment in history was an important part of history.

This document is valuable to my research. The author uses historical events and dates to support the claims in the article. Along with mentioning the historical events and dates, he includes personal quotes and accounts from individuals that witnessed the shift in America after Emmett Till which makes his claims valid and reasonable to comprehend. A limitation is that the author was not actually there and could be receiving information from people who are either lying, fabricating the story or weren’t even there. This would make the idea that Emmett Till’s murder and trial the spark of the Civil Rights movement harder to believe and prove.

“The Murder of Emmett Till”

“The Murder of Emmett Till.” The Murder of Emmett Till. PBS. 1 (703) 739-5000, Arlington, Virginia, n.d. Television

PBS published this documentary in order to give insight into the murder of Emmett Till, along with the trial in great detail. In this documentary, the world is opened up to the major details about Till’s murder and how it acted as a catalyst for African Americans to step up and fight for equality, which would later be deemed the Civil Rights Movement. PBS is known for displaying a multitude of educational and informative programs, some of which analyze and detail our country and world’s history. The Emmett Till murder and trial created a huge social change in America and PBS used eyewitnesses, evidence, historical dates, facts and evidence, as well as personal accounts of what happened to convey the message.

The purpose of PBS displaying this program was to inform people of what happened to Emmett Till and how the end of his life and the acquittal of his murderer was the last straw for African Americans. The outcry for change and equality was severely loud and powerful and many other Civil Rights landmarks occurred because of it. PBS uses the accounts of Emmett Till’s mom, Mamie Till Mobley, who was the main driver of the Emmett Till case that forced everyone to open their eyes, as well as the rest of the Till family, friends of the Till family, witnesses who claim to have seen Emmett on his way to die, the people that found him and many other people who were there to witness these historical events in history.

This document is VERY valuable to my research. This is one of the most valuable documents that contribute to the research because of the abundance of evidence that there is. This documentary includes the accounts of those that were closest to Till, as well as those who were in the area of his murder and claim to have seen him before he was murdered. The limitation would be that the information may be a tad enhanced or fabricated because of the emotions involved in this case; another limitation would be the truth that not everyone may be telling the truth.

Section D: Analysis

When Emmett Till was murdered and the African Americans saw what happened to him, they knew that what happened to him was not okay and that it was time for them to all bound together and stand as one to fight for equality. African Americans had been treated poorly for a long period of time and the implementation of Jim Crow laws made them feel inferior to whites, and some fought against it knowing they were wrong, but when a young fourteen-year old boy was bludgeoned, they knew something was wrong. (History) When Mamie Till Mobley allowed for the world to see what had happened to her son via newspaper and public viewing, they became outraged at what they saw because of the condition that his body was left in and it made them realize how ruthless the whites could be to commit something like that on a child. (PBS) Following his murder, African Americans began to donate money to hear Mamie Till Mobley speak about Emmett Till because they were interested and passionate about fighting back now, and one of the strongest ways to support a cause is to donate money. (Los Angeles Times) Along with the African Americans, some whites were also outraged at what happened and looked down upon their race because of their tolerance of his murder because they said “times have changed that kind of violence was unacceptable. This contributed to the spark of the Civil Rights movement because once the opposing race began to realize that what was going on was wrong, they knew it was time for change. (Los Angeles Times)When the trial began and the murderers were acquitted, the African Americans became even more outraged and they proceeded to hold rallies and protests to send a message to the rest of America that they were not going to stand for the discrimination that they have endured for their whole lives, nor were they going to let them get away with acquitting the murderers of Emmett Till. With these rallies and protests, the people were fighting for themselves and the generations ahead of them because they didn’t want the newer generations to have to live in a country where a white individual can harm a black individual and get away with it, especially harm as severe as Emmett Till’s. (PBS)Around three months later, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man and she stated that she thought of Emmett Till when the bus driver told her to move and she just couldn’t bring herself to do it. (Los Angeles Times) When she was arrested for this, this prompted the infamous Montgomery Bus Boycott, which they asked Martin Luther King Jr. to help. So, because of Emmett Till, Rosa Parks stood her ground and refused to give up her seat, which led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which was a one of the most groundbreaking events in the Civil Rights Movement.

Section E: Conclusion

Emmett Till’s murder and trial was an eye-opening event and tragedy that forced people to see that a change in the country needed to be made. The murder of Till and the public display of his beaten and battered body instilled fear and anger in their hearts, which was the main driver for why they decided to engage in a series of protests, rallies and boycotts known as the Civil Rights Movement, which was targeted towards establishing equality between the whites and blacks. The acquittal of his murderers also set fuel to the fire because the two men that beat Emmett literally got away with murder and it seemed to them as if the same cycle would repeat itself had they not all stepped up and fought for equality. With the help of prominent Civil Rights activists as well, it was clear that what happened to Emmett would never leave the people’s minds and they wanted to be sure that they would never have to see something like that ever again.

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