Emmett Till - Reopening the Case

Emmett Till - Reopening the Case - Name Period Date U.S...

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1 (CBS) For many, the name Emmett Till may not sound familiar, but what happened to him in 1955 stunned the nation, causing shock waves that still reverberate today. Till was a 14-year-old black youngster who was murdered in Mississippi for whistling at a white woman. His death was a spark that ignited the civil rights movement in America. Two white men were put on trial for killing him, but in spite of strong evidence against them, an all-white jury acquitted them in about an hour. This past spring, the U.S. Justice Department opened a new investigation, based on evidence suggesting that more than a dozen people may have been involved in the murder of Till, and that at least five of them are still alive. Those five could face criminal prosecution. Correspondent Ed Bradley reports. Till was only 14 when he was kidnapped, tortured and killed. The two men who were acquitted of his murder were Roy Bryant and his half brother, J.W. Milam. The failure to punish anyone for the crime made headlines across the country and around the world, exposing the racial hatred and unequal justice for blacks that was pervasive in the segregated South, where laws dictated where blacks could eat, drink and sleep. But Till wasn’t from the South. He was from Chicago, and he was visiting relatives in Mississippi in August of 1955, when his nightmare began. Till’s 16-year-old cousin, Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr., traveled to Mississippi with him. The family was reluctant to let Emmett take the trip, afraid his free-spirited nature could get him into trouble in the deep South. "He was the center of attraction. He loved pranks, he loved fun, he loved jokes. You know, he just was there in the center of everything. He was kind of a natural-born leader," says Parker, now 65. Why would that be a problem? "In Mississippi," says Parker, laughing. "It'd be a problem because the Mississippians, what he thought was just fun, or a joke, wasn't funny to them." Did he prepare Till with how he should behave in Mississippi? "Oh yes, that's routine," says Parker. "You're always prepared to go to Mississippi to stay alive. Because once you got to Mississippi, you had no protection under the law. You couldn't call anyone for help, once you were there, if you got in trouble." For Till, the trouble started at Bryant's meat market and grocery store in Money, Miss. Back then, most of the customers at this store were black workers from nearby cotton plantations. A white couple, Roy Bryant and his 21-year-old wife, Carolyn, owned the store. She was behind the counter the afternoon that Till and his cousins came in to buy some candy. As he was leaving the store, Till whistled at Carolyn, and she went to get a gun. Till's cousin, Simeon Wright, was only 12 on the day
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This note was uploaded on 05/13/2010 for the course USH US History taught by Professor Mize during the Spring '10 term at West Point.

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Emmett Till - Reopening the Case - Name Period Date U.S...

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