Emmett Till and Tom Robinson Cases

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 102
  • Published : May 22, 2013
Open Document
Text Preview
American history has changed in many ways, whether it’s from civil rights to daily American life. The court system has also changed in many ways, one of which being racism. Two trials in particular are the Emmett Till case and a fictional case, which is the Tom Robinson case from Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Both men are similar because they were both being accused of sexual transgression and both were also victims of excessive violence. Both Emmett and Tom were African Americans who lived through the times of terrible racism in the south. Because both men lived through racism in the 1900’s, their lives were affected with the time honored code, that white men would stick together and stand against any black man, and lastly, they suffered through accusations and punishment without evidence. Throughout the 1920’s to the1950’s racism ran very deep in the lives of Americans. White Americans hated all black men and women and did whatever they could to demoralize them and make them feel like they did not belong because of their skin color. In both cases, Emmett Till and Tom Robinson were black men accused of going too far with white females. The Emmett Till case took place in the 1950’s. Emmett was a fourteen year old black male accused of “wolf whistling” at, twenty-one year old, white female, Carolyn Bryant from Money, Mississippi. Emmett never physically touched Carolyn Bryant. While visiting his family on vacation, he noticed her from a distance and whistled in a way she took offensively. This was mainly a problem due to the fact that Emmett Till was African American and Carolyn Bryant was not. In the novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, the author, Harper Lee, created a fictional case that demonstrates lifelike problems that real people had to deal with. The Tom Robinson case took place somewhere between the late 1920’s and the early 1930’s in Maycomb County, Alabama. During this time Alabama’s racist roots ran very deep. So many people were struggling financially that many people were looking for a reason to fight, or a way to keep those who were less welcomed down. Racism was very common and a main part of the book, Atticus Finch States, “The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box. As you grow older, you'll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don't you forget it - whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash”(295). Tom Robinson was a young man with a family. He was forced to walk pass the Ewell house daily so he could get to and from work, every now and again Mayella Ewell would have him stop to help her do something for her, because she had nobody else who would help her. Through these visits she felt they established a friendship; he felt pity for the woman who had no one. After Mayella’s dad, Bob Ewell, beat her leaving bruises, they accused Tom Robinson of raping her. Because of Bob Ewell beating his daughter it was easy for the white community to believe that a black male may have caused these marks during a sexual assault. This case was unfair on many levels, including the fact that it was never fully inspected and there was no true evidence. Even though the Tom Robinson case is fictional from a book it could have easily been based on a true story such as Emmett Till’s.

Sexual transgression is the crime that both Tom Robinson and Emmett Till were accused of. Sexual transgression is to cross a boundary sexually, whether the incident is caused by touching, making a simple noise, or comment. In the Emmett Till case, Emmett may have just “wolf whistled” at Carolyn Bryant, but her impression of what occurred caused enough stress that it was believed he needed to be punished. It may not have been considered rape, but it was still...
tracking img