Shelby Willis
Ayana Hodges

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Emmett Louis TillJuly 5, 1951-August 8, 1955

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Chicago in 1955 still was divided as far as races were concerned, but no where near as racist as Mississippi. Emmett Till, an African-American fourteen year old boy, was raised in Chicago, went south to visit his relatives in Money, Mississippi. Although he was warned by his parents to stay away and not to talk to white folks, Emmett wasn't aware of how different these towns were. August 13 a African-American activist, Lamar Smith, was shot to death in Brookhaven, Mississippi. Another death occurred just a few weeks before Emmett Till came to Money, Mississippi; a black girl was beaten for “crowding” a white woman in a local store.
On Wednesday night of August 24th Emmett and his cousins were seated on the front porch of Bryant's Grocery and Meat Market playing a friendly game of checkers, Emmett started telling stories of life up North, to aid his story he flashes picture insisting on saying the white girl in the picture was his girlfriend.
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One of the boys in the group laughed and said, "There's a pretty little white woman in there in the store. Since you Chicago cats know so much about white girls, let's see you go in there and get a date with her." A joke turned into dare, and Emmett accepted the challenge. When Witnesses allegedly reported that when Emmett was walking away he turned and yelled “Bye, baby.” Emmett Till died a cruel death three days after this incident.
01_till_04.jpgWHO:Ray Bryant was Mrs. Bryant’s husband he was out of town when his wife was “disrespected.” Ray Bryant made it a priority to find the boy and put him in place as soon as he got back from his trip, after his wife told him about the incident. To help instill fear into the boy he brought one of his friends, J.W. Milam to help put the boy in check. Ray Bryant and J.W. Milam’s intentions were clear, they wanted to assure Emmett would never hit on a white woman ever again.
WHERE: In Money, Mississippi, everything was segregated by the Jim Crow Laws. Jim Crow Laws were a series of anti-black laws that prevented blacks from being equal to whites. These laws were state and local laws put in place from around 1976 through 1965.

Examples of Jim Crow Laws:
  • Seperate entry doors and seating in movie theatres.
  • Poll Taxes and literacy tests in order to qualify to vote.
  • Seating in the back of the bus, or separate train cars and waiting rooms.
  • Seperate dining facilities.
  • Seperate bathroom facilities.
  • Seperate water fountains.
  • Seperate churches.
  • Seperate hotels, and bank tellers.external image PhJLBYJR1OlAwP7mswjxdTvk2ol0SY772UnUXVbBBNYGZ2A0JztYMnnzH3Xh-29FzUm_7bci3NxoZI_96OlWs5NiRZTzQa3qtsWRpABUEdy9ouPWwxQ
  • Seperate public and State parks.
  • Seperate schools and books could not be interchanged.
  • Seperate Doctors, Hospitals, graveyards and undertakers.
  • Curfews.
  • A ban on mixed-race dating and marriage, and mixed marriages declared illegal.
  • Seperate public phone booths, ball parks and ballpark seating.external image nPIUa25aV01WiL_UI1FU-HnEm_qBYApd0w6esFQf6k2s0H1OJebM6vlEY0X2SqbrIIYkB4fk1X0uoBS3tq1qS8fX1b7Qf84lWUK98JK8ZZka4ZaH0mU
  • Seperate areas in public libraries.
  • Seperate jails and prisons.

Read more:

WHY: Ray Bryant felt that he had to defend his wife, and a negro had no place to feel like he cexternal image QLiUFYuJy7ILKuywNafrL7xfKK1hsMJvaIEKJRGttF9FrioR5R6Wln3CK_qfPcEhnFgWHXR2VeC0eMNEo1lmTSsg1NI8gvFBrMCWtvaw9HXpFtmaXiMould ever
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get a white woman. The brothers felt that Emmett had to be put in his place. Majority of the whites in the south would side with Ray Bryant and J.W. Milam felt that the Jim Crow laws were there for a reason. Jim Crow Laws were a system of unofficial laws to keep the south segregated. They restricted African-Amexternal image AZRyoQDpI_q51Jn3Efarm0HDOww-f7kok-eItV903RqVYevQX3uZddcCfrbGbopYSc80CfkvV59-cJtfVrYwOH7JBUGmeMrxvoUYVE5VwrfpoUi2YKkericans and told them what they could and could not do.
HOW: The tied up his cousin and kidnapped Emmet. They took him to a shed, they then beat him with their pistols, shot him, gouged out one of his eyes, tied him up firmly with barb wire to a 75 pound fan and rolled him off the bank of a river.

'Twas down in Mississippi not so long ago,
When a young boy from Chicago walked through a
Southern door.
This boy's fateful tragedy you should all remember well,
The color of his skin was black and his name was Emmett Till.

Some men they dragged him to a barn and there they beat him up.
They said they had a reason, but I disremember what.
They tortured him and did some things too evil to
There was screaming sounds inside the barn, there was
laughing sounds out on the street.

Then they rolled his body down a gulf amidst a blood-red rain
And they threw him in the waters wide to cease his
screaming pain.
The reason that they killed him there, and I'm sure it
was no lie,
Was just for the fun of killin' him and to watch him slowly die. ('cause he was born a black skinned boy, he was born to die)
And then to stop the United States of yelling for a trial,
Two brothers they confessed that they had killed poor
Emmett Till.
But on the jury there were men who helped the brothers
commit this awful crime,
And so this trial was a mockery, but nobody seemed to mind.

I saw the morning papers but I could not bear to see
The smiling brothers walkin' down the courthouse stairs.
For the jury found them innocent and the brothers they went free,
While Emmett's body floats the foam of a Jim Crow southern sea.

If you can't speak out against this kind of thing, a crime
that's so unjust

Your eyes are filled with dead men's dirt, your mind is
filled with dust.
Your arms and legs they must be in shackles and chains, and
your blood it must refuse to flow,
For you let this human race fall down so God-awful low!

This song is just a reminder to remind your fellow man
That this kind of thing still lives today in that
ghost-robed Ku Klux Klan.
But if all us folks that thinks alike, if we gave all we
could give,
We could make this great land of ours a greater place to live.