Thursday, April 3, 2008
The murder of Emmett Till
By NICHOLE YEOMAN
(Nichole Yeoman is a student in Mr. Randy Turner's eighth grade communication arts class at South Middle School during the 2007-2008 school year.)
"Emmett Till was an African American fourteen-year-old who was brutally murdered on August 28,1955." When I heard this statement, it caught my attention one hundred percent. It made me angry and sad when I heard the rest of Emmett Till’s short life story. I couldn’t believe how people were so barbaric and cruel to other humans. I couldn’t imagine going through the pain Emmett went through just for something simple as saying two words to a person!
Emmett Till lived in Chicago, Illinois. When Emmett was only a small child, his father, Louis Till and mother, Mamie Till, separated in 1942. His mother raised Emmett mainly. After not spending a lot of time with his father, Emmett’s dad got drafted off to the army for the war in 1943. While in the army, Louis was convicted and put to death for raping two Italian women and killing a third.
The year of 1955, Emmett was 14 years old. For the summer, he was sent to stay at a family member’s house. Money, Mississippi, was where he stayed. Emmett was used to the unwanted segregation in Chicago, but in Mississippi it was a different story.
-The Lynching of Emmett Till by Christopher Metress
When he arrived, Emmett made some new African American friends. We all know that when you are a teenager that having a boyfriend or girlfriend is what is "cool" in most places. When making new friends, we all get nervous and want to show off to fit in. This is the situation Emmett Till was put in. Emmett just happened to have a picture of one of his friends back home in Chicago in his back pocket while on the conversation of having white friends. To show Emmett hangs with them ,too, he pulled it out and showed his new friends. While they were walking with the picture, they just happened to walk by a white woman working in a store across the street. As most teenagers do, Emmett fell into their peer pressure. They had dared him to go talk to the woman. He walked in the store, bought some candy, then while leaving he looked back and said "Bye baby" to the woman. Knowing the boys might get caught and get in trouble they then ran away from the store. After they calmed down, Emmett probably felt pretty confident that he "fit in" now.
Days went on and the boys didn’t even think about what happened, until a few days later. Emmett was at his uncle, Mose Wright’s cabin. Emmett was sound asleep when Mose led Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam to Emmett. Mose, just begging them to just whip Emmett, was threatened to keep quiet, or else they would kill him. Later that night, Mamie was told of her sons kidnapping. Doing as any loving mother would do, she called police, newspaper companies, and friends.
As days and nights of worrying went on, the third day they found Emmett Till, murdered, weighed down by a seventy-five pound cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire! The police could not tell who Emmett was until they found his dad’s ring engraved with his initials. His face was unbearable with one eye gouged out of the socket, a bullet in his head, and bruises all over his body. I cannot imagine all the pain he went through as they abused him until he died.
-The Emmett Till Book by M. Susan Orr-Klopher
When his body was shipped back to Chicago, his mother decided to have an open casket at the funeral. She wanted to let people know what he had to go through. She was glad that Roy and J.W. had already been arrested for the kidnapping, but she was worried that they were going to get away with the murder after the trials came around. In the beginning blacks and whites were disgusted and amazed of what happened to him, yet no white lawyers would take Emmett's case.
They had much trouble finding witnesses who would testify against J.W. and Roy. Being the good hearted man he was, Mose Wright finally stepped forward and became the witness they needed. Then after being asked who kidnapped his nephew, he truthfully pointed to Milam and Bryant. Though he encouraged many other African Americans to testify against the two men, their courage didn't help much when it ended. It turned around with an ending line from John C. Whitten, their defense attorney. There, the two murderers were found "not guilty" on September 23rd. As awful as it is, they never went to jail again, for the killing of Emmett Till.
After the trial, the Bryant’s store went out of business from all the African Americans boycotting it, which they earned every bit of it. Since they were not making any money from their shop that closed down, they decided to take interviews for $4,000. In the interviews they confessed they did murder the 14-year-old, Emmett Till. But neither of the killers went to jail because constitutional protection against double jeopardy meant they could not be taken to jail for the murder. The attorneys for Milam and Bryant were in the room when they gave their interviews.
This whole entire story makes me sick to my stomach knowing that two men that killed a 14 year old didn’t go to jail even when they did confess. I will never know how humans could be so brutal over such a little incident. Words are so little, yet people can turn them into murders. None of it makes any sense to me at all.