Have you ever looked a girl
and thought she was pretty and maybe whistled or made a comment? Did you
ever think that doing something like that could get you killed? Thatís
what happened to Emmett Till in 1955. Emmett was a fourteen-year-old black
boy from Chicago, and he just didnít know how things were done in Mississippi.
And when they told him about the way things worked between the blacks and
whites in the South, he didnít take it seriously. He wasnít about to let
anybody tell him what he could and couldnít do. And he certainly wasnít
going to act like anybodyís servant, carrying some white boyís suitcase
like he was some sort of slave. That was Hiram Hillburnís introduction
to Emmett: Emmett was the boy who wouldnít carry his suitcase. Not that
Hiram wanted Emmett to carry it. Hiram just wanted to get to his grandfatherís
house. It was heaven to be at his grandfatherís, where heíd spent so many
wonderful vacations as a kid. It was heaven to be away from his father,
with his constant sermons and weirdness about hate, racism, equal rights,
and all that. His father hated the South and the way things were down there,
and heíd moved his family as far away from Mississippi and his own father
as he could possibly get them. But Hiram didnít hate the South, and he
certainly didnít hate his grandfather. That is, he didnít until he heard
about what happened to Emmett Till after someone accused him of whistling
at a white woman. How could anyone kidnap a fourteen-year-old kid, viciously
beat, maim, and shoot him, and then dump him into a river? And how could
it be that the people responsible were declared innocent after the jury
deliberated for barely an hour? How could it be that people like Hiramís
own grandfather think the most horrible thing that happened was a wolf
whistle, not a murder?
(Pause a beat or two, or wait for the "is that true?" question.)
This novel is based on actual events. Hiramís part of the story is fiction,
but Emmett Till did go to Mississippi in 1955, he did whistle at a white
woman in a store, he was murdered for it, and his killers did go free.
The U.S. Justice Department has recently (Oct. 2004) reopened the case.
If you would like to learn more about Emmett Tillís story, try Getting
Away With Murder, also by Chris Crowe. (Miriam Neiman, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Welles-Turner Memorial Library, Glastonbury, CT)
At first Hiram was very excited
to be visiting his favorite grandfather in Greenwood, Mississippi.
Things were going great till he meets Emmett Till. Emmett Till was
a 14 year-old African American from Chicago who went to visit realatives
for the summer in Greenwood.
Hiriam and Emmett become friends. A tragic incident happens to Emmett.
He was kidnapped and murdered for allegedly whistling at a white woman
in the Bryant Meat and Grocery Store.
A few night later, R.C., an old "friend" of Hiriam's pays him a visit and
tells him about Emmett whistling at a white woman in public and "how he
ought to be taught a lesson!" Hiriam worries about Emmett.
Emmett's body is found a couple of days later floating in the river.
Hiriam cannot figure out who murdered Emmett. Hiriam and the town
try to solve the murder mystery. Could R.C. be capable of committing
this torture type crime? Due to the prejudice circumstances that
existed in the south during the 1950's Hiriam is very confused about who
murdered his friend.
Read this book and find out exactly who is responsible for this horrible
hate crime. Does the real killer get his "just deserved" punishment?
You'll have to read the story to find out who done it. (Rebecca C.
Golden Meadow Lower Elementary, Golden Meadow, Louisiana, USA)