The Court Case Trials of Dred Scott, Emmett till and Trayvon Martin

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Background on the Dred Scott Case
  • The Outcome of the Dred Scott Trial
  • Background on the Emmett Till Case
  • The Outcome of the Emmett Till Trial
  • Background on the Trayvon Martin Case
  • The Outcome of the Trayvon Martin Trial
  • The Similarities of The Cases
  • Conclusion


Many people would agree that the world we live in today is not the best place. For three innocent men, this statement is nothing but the truth. These men are known as Dred Scott, Emmett Till, and Trayvon Martin. Although they may have been accused of different things, they definitely have a lot in common with the similarities of their cases.

Background on the Dred Scott Case

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Dred Scott was an African American slave that was born into slavery. He was born sometime in c. 1795 in his hometown of Southampton County, Virginia. Dred Scott is known for being a social activist who, before fighting for his freedom, served many different slave masters ( Editors 2009). When Dred Scott’s first owner died, he spent time working for several subsequent proprietors in two free states. Fairly soon after he married, he tried to buy liberty for not only himself, but also his family, but failed in the process. Because of this, he took his case to the Missouri courts. He ended up winning, only to have the Supreme court ruling overturned. This event was so controversial that it started Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation of Emancipation, and then soon after, the American Civil War. After only a little more than a year of true freedom, Scott died from tuberculosis on September 17, 1858 in St. Louis, Missouri ( Editors 2014).

The Outcome of the Dred Scott Trial

In the year of 1846, Dred Scott began the court process. He appealed to a local St. Louis district court in his first trial, but he prevailed in a second trial. The Missouri State Supreme Court’s decision was to overturn the ruling. In 1854, Dred Scott filed another federal case against John Sanford, the brother of the widow Emerson and executor of his properties. Scott couldn’t have done it without the help from local civil rights activists. Scott appealed to the United States Supreme Court when the decision was in favor of Sanford. Eleven years prior to the first suits, the decision of Dred Scott vs. Sandford case was issued in 1857 by The Supreme Court. Out of the nine judges, seven were in favor with the decision of Justice Roger Taney. He declared that in Federal Court, blacks had no rights because they were illegal residents. To grant Dred Scott and his family freedom, Mrs. Emerson remarried and returned them to the Blows family in May of 1857 ( Editors 2014).

Background on the Emmett Till Case

Emmett Till was a fourteen year old, African American boy from Chicago, Illinois. In the year of 1955, Emmett Till was accused of flirting with a white woman named Carolyn Bryant, who was a cashier at a grocery store. On August 24th, a few of Emmett’s cousins, friends and himself were waiting outside a country store in Money, Illinois. Emmett claimed that back at home, he had white girlfriend. The African American friends with Emmett, refusing to believe him, dared Emmett to ask the white woman behind the register, on a date. He went inside the store to buy some candy and while walking out, he was heard saying “Bye, baby” to the cashier ( Editors 2010). This accusation was unfair because the only witness was the cashier, Carolyn Bryant. When Bryant’s husband, Roy Bryant, returned home from a trip, she told him what Till had said to her a few days prior. Her husband was so infuriated that he and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, went to the home of Till’s great uncle, Mose Wright, and demanded that they see the boy. Despite the pleas from Wright, they forced Emmett into their car. They ended up beating Till in a toolhouse that was close in proximity to Milam’s home, then drove him down to the Tallahatchie River. Three days later, Emmett Till’s corpse was found in the river, but they had beat him so badly that he was unrecognizable. The only way that they could tell that it was him was an initialed ring that he had on ( Editors 2010). Authorities wanted to bury the body quickly, but Till’s mother asked that his body be shipped back to Chicago, where he had an open casket funeral. His mother did this to show the world what these racist murderers had done to her innocent son. This was a bold move, but it was her way of bringing attention to the issue of racial profiling to raise awareness and get justice for Emmett ( Editors 2020).

The Outcome of the Emmett Till Trial

The case went to trial on September 19th,1955. At this point in time, blacks and women were excluded from having to serve jury duty, Bryant and Milam were convicted in front of an all-white, all-male jury ( Editors 2020). As Moses Wright took the stand, he identified Bryant and Milam as kidnappers and murderers of Emmett Till. On September 23rd, Bryant and Milam were found guilty of murder by the jury. Their hearings only last sixty-seven minutes long ( Editors 2010).

Background on the Trayvon Martin Case

Trayvon Martin was an innocent, seventeen year old, African American teenager. He was born on February 26, 1995 in Miami, Florida. As Trayvon Martin was walking back home from a trip to the grocery store, George Zimmerman, a community watch member monitoring the Retreat townhouse community at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Florida, shot and killed Martin ( Editors 2020). Zimmerman later admitted that after a physical conflict, he shot the unarmed seventeen year old out of self-defense ( Editors 2013).

The Outcome of the Trayvon Martin Trial

Since Zimmerman, whose father is white and mother is Hispanic, was originally not detained by police, the incident caused an uproar and started national debates concerning racial profiling and self-defense regulations ( Editors 2013). Zimmerman was then later arrested and charged with second-degree murder. He was cleared of the allegations against him, despite a high profile case that shocked America ( Editors 2020).

The Similarities of The Cases

Although these cases may seem different, the underlying issues remained the same throughout each trial. All three of these men were African American men, which showed proof that they were being discriminated against because of their ethnicity. Another similarity is that the pain that Dred Scott, Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin went through, not only scarred them, but also the other victims involved in this situation. These people include close friends and family members of the men that also suffered emotional pain and distress. Although these cases all happened in different time periods, the issue continued throughout the generations. This shows that racial profiling may have started early on in Dred Scott’s days, but even after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, people still continued to discriminate against race. These problems carried onto generations forward like Trayvon’s, and still lives on today.


In conclusion, we as people, have evolved and learned lessons that will hopefully impact more people for the rest of time so nothing like this will happen in the future. This is why it is important for their stories to be told, so their legacies could be carried out by others. They never deserved the terrible things that happened, but if it weren’t for them, we might not have the mindset and equality that we have today. Because of this, all three men will always be an inspiration to people worldwide. With the society that we live in today, there will always people who are racist, which makes the world a bad place, but thanks to Dred, Emmett, and Trayvon, it is definitely more positive

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