Emmett Till

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Emmett Till was an African American boy born on July 25, 1941 in Webb, Mississippi. When he was two years old, his family and he moved to Illinois, Chicago. He practically grew up with his mother, Mamie Carthan Till; she had separated from his father in 1942. Now, keep in mind that during this era, segregation was still present in some states although the Brown V. Board of Education ruled segregation in public schools unconstitutional in 1954. However, the court ruling did not stop de facto—African Americans sitting down in the back of the bus, stepping down to the street if a white man was walking on the sidewalk, or having separate facilities such as bathrooms and restaurants.

In August 1955, Till and his cousin went on a train to stay at his uncle’s house in Money, Mississippi. Before departing for Mississippi, Till’s mother reminded him to behave well because she was aware of the differences between Mississippi and Chicago in that Mississippi had much more severe segregation and discrimination towards African Americans. Mississippi was like the heart of Jim Crow country. Jim Crow laws were “separate but equal” laws which meant everything was separated between the whites and African Americans such as transportations, stores, and restaurants, yet supposedly they were equal. Also, the whites were still upset from the court ruling of Brown v. Board of Education and remained hostile to African Americans.

Till and his cousin had arrived in Money, Mississippi on August 21st 1955. It was Till’s first time in the south despite that he was born there, and soon he would discover how severe the segregation and hostile the white southerners would be. Three days after his arrival, on August 24th 1955, Till had made the biggest mistake of his life over an incident which seemed small and unreasonable, yet it was something that would anger the southerners enough to take action and even cost his life. Till and a few other African American teenage boys were hanging out...
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