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The Death of Emmett Till

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1 The Death of Emmett Till
The Death of Emmett Till

2 In 1955, Emmett (aged 14) went to spend the summer with family in Money, Mississippi.
He and a group of teenagers went to Bryant's Grocery and Meat Market for refreshments to cool off after a long day of picking cotton in the hot sun. When he showed the teenagers a picture of a white girl who was one of his friends back home and bragged that she was his girlfriend, one of them said, "Hey, there's a [white] girl in that store there. I bet you won't go in there and talk to her." Emmett went in and bought some candy. As he left, he said "Bye baby" to Carolyn Bryant, the wife of the store owner, according to some accounts. Others say he whistled at her.

3 Four days later, Roy Bryant and his half brother J. W
Four days later, Roy Bryant and his half brother J. W. Milam kidnapped Emmett from the house of his great uncle, Moses Wright. They brutally beat him, took him to the edge of the Tallahatchie River, shot him in the head, fastened a large metal fan used for ginning cotton to his neck with barbed wire, and pushed the body into the river. Emmett’s decomposed corpse was pulled from the river three days later. His great uncle identified the body from a ring with the initials L.T.

4 "Have you ever sent a loved son on vacation and had him returned to you in a pine box, so horribly battered and water-logged that someone needs to tell you this sickening sight is your son -- lynched?" -- Mamie Bradley

5 The men were arrested and tried in a segregated courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi
Mose Wright pointed them out in court when asked to identify the men who had taken his nephew. His bravery encouraged other blacks to testify against the two defendants. All of them were hurried out of the state after their testimony. The men were acquitted after the jury deliberated for 67 minutes.

6 "Your fathers will turn over in their graves if [Milam and Bryant are found guilty] and I'm sure that every last Anglo-Saxon one of you has the courage to free these men in the face of that [outside] pressure." -- Defense attorney John C. Whitten, to the jurors in his closing statement

7 The Impact of Emmett Till
Ann Moody says, “Before Emmett Till’s murder, I had known the fear of hunger, hell, and the Devil. But now there was a new fear known to me - the fear of being killed just because I was black. This was the worst of my fears” (125). “I was fifteen years old when I began to hate people. I hated the white man who murdered Emmett Till and I hated all the other whites who were responsible for the countless other murders” (129).

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