The Murder of Emmet Louis Till and the Impact His Death Had Upon the American Civil Rights Movement

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The Murder of Emmet Louis Till and the Impact His Death Had Upon the American Civil Rights Movement
Anthony Ambrosius Aurelius

“In the summer of 1955, Emmet Louis Till arrived in Mississippi, United States of America from Chicago, United States of America. Till’s family had harvested cotton for generations but this trip would be Till’s introduction to the delta, referred to by locals as the “most southern place on Earth”. Hundreds of thousands of African Americans fled Mississippi for Chicago in the years between World War I and World War II. One way train fare cost $11.10 which equates to $190.00 as of 2020 when accounting for inflation using 1931 as a balance point between 1918 and 1945.

Neighborhoods, schools, and the city of Chicago was segregated but offered freedom and opportunities which Africa Americans in the Deep South could only dream about. Mamie Carthan (pronounced “may-me”) arrived in Chicago at age 2, an only child in a family who had all been former sharecroppers at one time. Carthan graduated high school at the top of her class and became one of the first black women to hold a civil service job. In 1940, Carthan married soldier Louis Till and 1 year later, their son Emmet was born, who Mamie called “Beau” (pronounced “bow”). In 1945, Carthan received word that her husband had died in Europe during World War II toward the end of the conflict. Carthan received nothing more than her husband’s signet ring inscribed with his initials “L.T.”.

A childhood case of polio left Till with a stutter but by adolescence, Till had grown into a confident, self-assured boy who enjoyed being the center of attention. Till enjoyed telling jokes and making people laugh, and would on occasion lift his shirt and roll his stomach fat as a way of encouraging people to laugh at and with him. Till loved jokes and would pay people to tell him new jokes. Till was also described by his cousin Wheeler Parker as a “natural born leader”.

1954, a U.S. Supreme Court decision struck down segregation as unconstitutional. In August of that same year, Till’s great uncle Mose Wright (pronounced “mowz rite”) visited Chicago and invited Till and his cousin Wheeler to accompany him back to Mississippi. Before letting her son and nephew go, Till’s mother Mamie educated the boys as to what would be expected of them in the Deep South. Mamie has admitted during interviews that she exaggerated how intense”

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