Civil Rights Movement

Topics: Federal Bureau of Investigation, White people, Emmett Till Pages: 9 (3501 words) Published: March 21, 2006
Civil Rights Movement: Social and Political Injustice

Civil Rights Movement: Social and Political Injustice

The Civil Rights Movement started with such events as the murder of Emmett Till and the Rosewood affair, but the end of the movement came from the power of Martin Luther King Jr. His works "I Have a Dream," "I've been to the Mountaintop," and "Letters from Birmingham Jail" had a huge impact on the success of the Civil Rights Movement, and the movie Mississippi Burning gives a strong sense of what the black community was going through. Black people in the south were going through hardship because of the large number of white people who would not respect them and give them the civil rights to which they were entitled as American citizens. They were treated unfairly in all aspects of life, particularly poorly as people, citizens, and as human beings. Dr. Martin Luther King and other organizers began a Civil Rights Movement to bring justice to all who were treated unjustly. There were many incidents that helped begin this movement and to bring peace to the South and the black community. The Civil Rights Movement was started by the murder of a young boy named Emmett Louis Till from Chicago, Illinois. He went down to visit his great-uncle Mose Wright in Mississippi. While he was visiting his great-uncle, he went to a store and saw a lady and whistled at her. Later that night he was abducted by two men, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, who were friends of the lady at whom Emmett whistled. A couple of days later Emmett Till's body was pulled out of the Tallahatchie River. His body had been brutally mutilated and destroyed. His head had been barb-wired to a 75-pound cotton gin fan. His eye had been gauged out and his forehead crushed. A bullet had also been shot through his head. His body had been brutally beaten that when it was sent back to his mother she was unable to identify her own son. Emmett's mother was so disgusted with what had happened to her son while he was located in the South that she demanded to have an open casket at his wake so the whole world could see how the black community was being treated down in the South. There was said to be an estimated 50,000 people who witnessed the body of Emmett Till as he lay mutilated in his casket at his wake (Beauchamp "Murder Emmett" 3). Emmett's disgraced body was even portrayed in the national publication Jet Magazine for the whole country to see, allowing ill informed people the opportunity to realize the atrocities that were ripping apart the South. The men that abducted Emmett Till were caught and arrested for his abduction and murder. At the subsequent trial, the injustice toward and the poor treatment of the black community continued. The jury consisted of all white males from the town in which Emmett was murdered. It took the jury 63 minutes of deliberation to reach a verdict. Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam were found not guilty and sent home the very same day (Beauchamp "Murder Emmett" 3). A couple months later these same men sold their confession to a journalist and admitted to killing Emmett Till. J.W. Milam even went so far as to grant an interview to Look Magazine. In his interview, Milam admitted to the Look Magazine reporter that right before he shot Emmett Till he screamed to him, "God damn you, I'm going to make an example of you just so everybody can know how me and my folks stand." (Beauchamp "Murder Emmett" 5). The entire Emmett Till episode exemplifies the atrocities toward the African American that existed in the South prior to the Civil Rights Movement. The injustices that were apparent in the murder of an innocent, young black male and the later acquittal of his self-confessed murderers demonstrated not only how terrible racism had become in the South but also showed the country how necessary it was for a major change to take place. Change did indeed begin to take place shortly after Emmett Till's trial. Indeed it can be...

Bibliography: Mississippi Burning. Dir. Alan Parker. Perf. Gene Hackman, William DeFoe, Frances McDormand, Brad Dourif, and Michael Rooker. Orion Pictures Corporation, 1988.
Aronson, David. "Remembering Rosewood." Findarticles. Fall 1999. U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. 1999.
Beauchamp, Keith A. "The Murder of Emmett Louis Till" The Black Collegian Online. 2005. The Black Collegian Magazine 2005.
King Jr., Martin Luther. "I Have a Dream" The Peaceful Warrior. Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. 28 August 1963
King Jr., Martin Luther. "I 've been to the Mountaintop" Striking Sanitation Workers. Federation of the State, County, and Municipal Employees. Mason Temple, Memphis, TN. 3 April 1968.
King Jr., Martin Luther. "Letter from Birmingham Jail" Atlanta, GA: The King Center, 1963.
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