The Murder of Emmett Till

DVD

60 minutes
Source: PBS Video

In August 1955, a fourteen-year-old black boy whistled at a white woman in a grocery store in Money, Mississippi. Emmett Till, a teen from Chicago, didn’t understand that he had broken the unwritten laws of the Jim Crow South until three days later, when two white men dragged him from his bed in the dead of night, beat him brutally, and then shot him in the head. Although his killers were arrested and charged with murder, they were quickly acquitted by an all-white, all-male jury. Shortly afterwards, the defendants sold their story, including a detailed account of how they murdered Till, to a journalist. The murder and the trial horrified the nation and the world. Till’s death was a spark that helped mobilize the Civil Rights Movement. Three months after his body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River, the Montgomery bus boycott began.

Be sure to check out our unit Emmet Till: A Series of Four Lessons.

Related Content

Lesson
Race in US History

Examining the Choices People Made

Students analyze the choices made by individuals in the film The Murder of Emmett Till after building an understanding of the social context of the South in the 1950s.

Lesson
Race in US History

Connecting the History of Lynching to The Murder

Students analyze the film The Murder of Emmett Till within a historical context of lynching and the early struggles against Jim Crow and racism.

Lesson
Race in US History

Confronting the Murder

Students explore their personal reactions, as well as contemporary responses, to the brutal murder of a fourteen-year old African American boy in 1955.

Lesson
Race in US History

Choosing to Remember

Students explore the meaning of the Emmett Till case for the modern civil rights movement and its legacy today for both Americans and the rest of the world.

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