Would you ever think that somebody’s death could be so impactful that it could change a whole country? Well believe it or not it has happened and the country keeps changing because of it, Emmett Till is his name. The period of the Jim Crow laws and segregation was a horrible time for people of color, there was only one thing that could change the way they were treated and that was a war. Instead of a war, there was a movement, a movement known as the Civil Rights Movement. Emmett Till was the catalyst that started the movement, the infamous kidnapping, and murder of Emmett Till has yet to have its justice.
Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X and so many more were influenced Emmett Till. According to Sarah Pruitt, Rosa Parks was asked to give up her seat for a white person in a bus but she thought, “ I thought of Emmett Till and when the bus driver ordered me to move to the back, I just couldn’t move.” Rosa Parks was guided by Emmett Till and a few days later the Montgomery Bus Boycott was influenced by Rosa Parks. This is an example of how Emmett Till influenced someone who then influenced something and in turn, created and started the Civil Rights Movement. Emmett Till was the boulder that rolled down the hill affecting everything in its path even after the hill ended.
It has been seventy-five years since the murder of Emmett Till, all this time there has been much research done about his death and the impact he’s caused. Recently there has been a documentary about him that interviews his mother, family, and even witnesses. Also, there will be a movie about Emmett Till but there still hasn’t been release date announcement. Racism is a thing that has been everywhere and continues to be everywhere. Emmett Till was a catalyst in the civil rights movement and the Civil Rights Movement was to bring fairness and equality to the people of color and so for this to happen racism had to come to an end and racism slowed down but did not come to an end. Racism is said to be ‘gone’ but if we look at today, the death of Trayvon Martin and police shootings/ police cruelty we can see that racism is still here. Many people have talked about racism but the more we talk about it some more people start to pay attention but we can’t just talk about it like any other drama or gossip we have to get deep and sentimental in order to actually impact the person. Away we can achieve this is why I talking about Emmett Till and the impact he’s had in civil right leaders, his own mother and the whole nation of America. My question is, to what extent did the Emmett Till case politically and socially impact the civil rights movement in the 1950’s?
Emmett Till was a young boy who was born and raised in Chicago, one day he decided to take a trip down South to Mississippi to visit his family. Once there he went to the store to buy chewing gum and so leaving the store he whistled at the cashier who was the owner’s wife. Everybody around was shocked and so Emmett got scared and he didn’t know what to do, the lady started to walk towards her car and everybody thought she was taking out a gun and so everybody panicked and ran. Emmett and his cousins ran to the car and drove off in a panic. Later that night the lady’s husband and the husband’s brother-in-law knocked on Emmett’s great-uncle’s door. They went inside and started looking for Emmett, once they found him they ordered Emmett to put on his shoes and leave the house during this process and it was answering to all the questions but wasn’t saying “yes sir and no sir” Emmett did not really know how to act in the South because of how different it was compared to the north. the men told Emmet’s family that they were just going to take him up the road and beat him up a little to show him respect and change how he treated people, white people, specifically but Emmett’s Grandma did not want to let him go and so she offered him money and exchange of not taking Emmett and so one of the men hesitated and taking Emmett but the husband already knew that he wanted to take Emmett and so they did. Emmett never came back. He was beaten up, tortured, shot to death, lynched and dumped in the Tallahatchie River. The main men who tortured and killed Emmett Till were named Roy Bryant and JW Milam, According to Mamie Till, there were around at least 5 people involved in the murder, they both died of cancer and never served time for kidnap and murder, Bryant showed no remorse whatsoever.
The documentary that was made of Emmett Till contained valuable information and specific information that only certain people know and this was due to the fact that they interviewed Emmett’s mom, the cousins that Emmett was with during the store incident, witnesses and more. To say the least, the trial was unfair but the circumstances that people were in back in the day were also in Fair, the jury and judge were white and so you can see that the final decision was bias. Emmett’s great-uncle spoke up and pointed to the two men that took his grandson if someone else would have done that they could have easily gotten killed because of the circumstances. he showed courage in doing so, he also showed that he wasn’t afraid of telling the rest of the people the truth as long as it would result in Justice for Emmett. there were multiple people that testified in the case and the woman that ‘started’ all of this also testified and lied. According to an article released August 24, 2018, about what Carolyn Bryant said during her trial mentions that Carolyn Bryant accused Emmett of grabbing her hand, asking her out on a date and whistling at her flirtatiously. Now on the contrary according to the documentary, interviews from the cousins that Emmett was with during the store, say that Emmett whistled at the woman but never mentioned anything that happened inside the store so we don’t know whether Carolyn Bryant is telling the truth or not.
Rosa Parks was a key component to be civil rights movement, she refused to get up from her seat when she was ordered to do so on a bus. She was a leader and was also part of the NAACP, She was a role model to people of color but one of her role model who was Emmett Till. She was influenced by him when she made her decision of whether she should stay in her seat or give it up, “I thought of Emmett Till and when the bus driver ordered me to move to the back, I just couldn’t move.” This goes to show that Emmett Till’s death influenced many important people such as Rosa Parks and in doing so Rosa Parks and Emmett influenced the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The boycott and Rosa Parks decision would not have been possible if it weren’t for Emmett Till. the bus boycott was organized in Montgomery and the purpose of it was to try and desegregate the buses as well as other things and places. Emmett was influential in this key part of history that also led to the Civil Rights Movement because the boycott accomplished its purpose and desegregated the buses. The hate and racism were still there but segregation in some places was not and so this was a step forward inequality for people of color. The next step for equality was the Civil Rights Movement and so with the help of Martin Luther King who was also influenced by Emmett Till he helped the bus boycott and give speeches to inspire people just like Emmett had motivated.
Above all who Emmett inspired, was his mother. Without his mother’s decision to leave his casket open, the world might have not seen his body. She wanted the world to see what she saw because she did not see her son. (the details are from the Emmett Till documentary) Mamie Till was forbidden to open the casket but with her fight and arguments, she got it opened. According to Mamie Till, “ When I first saw that box, I just collapsed.” Imagine having to see your child so young in a casket unrecognizable. Not only was he unrecognizable but the smell his body gave off almost knocked out Mamie Till 4 blocks from the funeral home. She saw her son’s body close to decapitated, his tongue had been choked out and was lying on his chin, his eye was gone and the other was hanging on his cheek, the top of his nose was smashed in as if someone got a meat beater and beat him with it, Mamie adored her son’s smile so when she checked his teeth she only saw two. She then noticed that his ear was gone and next to his ear sunlight was shining through a bullet hole. Not only was that enough for her to bare but her son’s private was chopped and so was half of his head, they split Emmett’s front and back of his head. How could people be so cruel to a young boy who was just barely starting to live his life, inhumane is not the correct word to use here because it’s far worse than that. After seeing her son’s body, she decided to let the rest of the world know what those men had done to her child, she wanted people to wake up and do something. Mamie Till made America deal with the racism in America, she woke people up and shook an entire nation and all she did was have an open casket. She made sure that racism, lynching, hatred and more act of violence towards African Americans were seen instead of going unnoticed. Imagine if the casket had been closed nobody would have known who Emmett Till was, nobody would have any regard for his life besides his own family. He would’ve been another African-American murdered by a white person but instead, he was acknowledged. For this reason, the nation of America woke up and was socially Changed by both Emmett Till and Mamie Till.
The movement that Emmett Till caused was started by the people of America mainly the African American community. Emmett Till influenced Rosa Parks, his own mother and most importantly the whole nation. The African American community lived in a nightmare and the more they tried to wake up from it, the more it seemed near to impossible but Emmett Till lived the worst nightmare and in turn, woke everyone up. He helped America face and change its racial problem, instead of just looking past his death America wanted to do something different, the African American community could no longer see young people die. White people crossed the line and the African American Community could not bear any more loss and suffering, they wanted change. Thus the death of Emmett Till was the last straw and people started to wake up and finally started the Civil Rights Movement. The community came together to have their voices heard, have change, be close to equality and fair treatment.
The people that were influenced by the death of Emmett Till helped shape what America is today. For instance, segregation is gone and racism as well but that’s what people say. America changed for the better but has it completely let go of its problems of racism and segregation? We see that in schools, certain people hang out with the same people, for instance, the cool kids hang out with the cool kids and the nerds with the nerds. This isn’t a form of racial segregation but it is still a form of segregation that was influenced by racial segregation. If we look at racism today we see that there has been police brutality and shootings of African Americans.