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American Experience

The Murder of Emmett Till (#1506)

In August 1955, a 14-year-old black boy from Chicago whistled at a white woman in a grocery store in Money, Mississippi. Emmett Till didn't understand that he had broken the unwritten laws of the Jim Crow South. Three days later, two white men dragged him from his bed in the dead of night, beat him brutally and shot him. Although his killers were arrested and charged with murder, they were both quickly acquitted by an all-white, all-male jury. Soon after, 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. Mamie Till returned to Chicago, remarried, taught public school for twenty-four years, and continued to speak publicly about her son's death. [56 minutes] Closed Captioning

This episode has not aired in the past few months on Iowa Public Television.

PBS Video

Series Description: As television's longest-running, most-watched history series, American Experience brings to life the incredible characters and epic stories that helped form this nation.

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