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The Murder of Emmett Till
The Film and More
Special Features
Online Forum
Do You Remember?
Teens and Segregation
In Till's Shadow
Till's Legacy
Sex and Race
Killers' Confession

People and Events
Teacher's Guide

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Students' Reactions

American Experience would like to thank Rodney Cummings, Makita Kheperu, and participating students of the Betty Shabazz International Charter School in Chicago, Illinois; and Milton Hardrict and students from Ruleville Central High School in Ruleville, Mississippi for their contributions to the Teens and Segregation feature.

Read the essays and poems written by the students in response to The Murder of Emmett Till.

I remember when Emmett Till Died.
I remember when his mama cried.
I remember the two men that killed him.
I remember when they took Emmett Away.
I remember when I waited all day, for him to come back.
I remember the bruises on his back.
I wish I never I remembered.
-- Ajibawo Bennett, Chicago

Even though the purpose of the laws was to separate each race but consider them as equal, it was still unfair. I think that both races should have been given the opportunity to interact with each other. Interaction among races creates diversity which is essential for a healthy life. The Jim Crow Laws did not help the situation at all by separating the races. They should have been stressing for the races to mix together. The mixing of the races would have made it better for the people as well as the nation.

I do not thinks that anything remains from the Jim Crow Laws today because people of today's society have over looked race. Race is not a big issue now as it as back then. Today, the races have somewhat in a sense came together. Love, friendship, and kindness have been found between the races rather than criticism. Society has dramatically changed and it is due to the togetherness of the races. We are all in this together. No matter what race we are, we are all made by the same creator. "WE ARE ALL A FAMILY"!!
-- Shanika Brown, Ruleville

I am Emmett Till
I wonder why it was me
I love my skin color
I should have been more careful
I am a young man
I love my mother
I did nothing wrong
I fear death
I should have listened to my mother
I am 14 years old
I wish was home
I miss my mother
I am greatly missed
--Tafari Mahor, Chicago

Dear Momma and family
How are you doing while I'm gone? I miss you guys very much and hope you feel the same. I know that I've only been in Money, Mississippi for two days, but I already feel suffocated by this lifestyle. The way blacks have to bow down to whites is as a dog being scared of a cat, it's crazy I don't understand life in the Mississippi Delta blacks and whites have different bathrooms, different rights, different lives, maybe it's a little too different. It just seems unfair to me and it should seem that way for colored people too. It is such a disgrace to have to be treated like black trash everyday of your life. It's a degrading experience that no race should have to go through as a natural everyday life occurrence. I know things have got to change, but how I can only imagine. Putting aside this negative southern talk my trip to Money has been very interesting. Uncle and Aunt always try to fill each day with a new experience and I've met some southern kids who seem very nice. So I think despite the depressing aspects of this trip to Mississippi will be good for me.
Your Loving Son,
Emmett "Bubo" Till
P.S. Please Don't worry about me I'm doing just fine.
-- Jasmine Harvey, Ruleville, writing as Emmett Till

I am a young Negro Male
I wonder why I am treated with injustice
I should have listened to my mothers warning
I am stubborn enough to disobey and exceed my "limits"
But this doesn't make the cruelty bestowed unto me right
They burnt, beat, shot, chastised and maimed me
I cry when I look below at the people that cry for me
I am Emmett Till
-- Ayinde Cartman, Chicago

Restaurant -- McDonald's location 79th King Drive. The restaurant is middle class, their food is ok.

IIT -- It's the Illinois Institute of Technology. Chicago seems very confused because on the west and east and south side it looks like a big garbage can, but down by the low end and in chinatown it looks different -- also in the northside. It's located 31 State Street.

Chicago-L stop on the south side of Chicago is located on 63rd and King Drive that's the towns train station. It looks like a big dumpster.
-- Shamile Allison, Chicago

Dear Mom,
I am so bored down here. There are not any places that I can hang out in. The kids can only go to the swimming pool. They have a small mall, but it is about an hour and a half away. The school looks pretty good, and there aren't a lot of gangs like up where we live. Some good things are that there aren't as many car break-ins or robberies. People can leave their car doors unlocked and don't have to worry criminal like people breaking into them or stealing them. These are some good points of being down here in the South. Another bad point is it is so ridiculous how hot it is. You have to wear sun block to keep from getting sunburned. I think I might have a lot of fun anyway. Look at the pictures I have sent you and compare them to Chicago.
Your Son,
Emmett Till
-- Mitchell Cockrell, Ruleville, writing as Emmett Till

Emmett Till's school was a block from his house off of Marquette. The name of the school is McCosh Elementary School. I went to the school on December 11, 2002 and asked them did they have any information about him and they said no. I was disappointed. Personally I think they was lying. I also went to Emmett's House (located on 6427 S. St. Lawrence) I rung the door bell, but no one was there so I took a picture on the porch and left. I also took a picture at his school. As we was driving I thought about race and segregation, and asked my teacher could we stop by the store to take a picture down the street on the corner from my school. The man's that work and own the store are arabs, with black faces on their store. They don't trust us to come in there store, they make us come in one by one. So if they don't trust us, why do they have our paintings outside their store. They're trying to get blacks to buy things from them.
-- Brenda Gaudy, Chicago

If Emmett Till was visiting my school he's probably view my community as not yet unsegregated, but a progress in motion. He'd definitely feel that there was a boundary that still restricts the whites from the blacks in my town. Maybe not so obvious as a colored bathroom and a white bathroom, but visibly separated. Emmett Till would find that us only interacting by chance a shame and a problem badly in need of a solution. How could our towns function solidly if the people are so black and white? Besides that he would have liked to see that many things in the Mississippi Delta has changed. Emmett Till would be proud of the major corrections in our once heavily racist system. He'd be disappointed that the people have slacked off when it comes to taking advantage of these freedoms we now have. He would consider this a ridiculous notion to not take advantage of what we have to get what we want. But Emmett Till would expect us, the children and the future, to change all that and the other problems that plague our lives. Such as teen pregnancy, school dropouts, drugs, and crime (racially related or not). He would say its up to us to change this by instilling in ourselves and others that we are better than a bunch of statistics. So if we set and example we could influence younger children down the right pathway of life. Overall Emmett Till would say that our community has traveled so far yet not far enough to achieve victory.
-- Jasmine Harvey, Ruleville

I am Emmett Till
I am black
I love my parents
I hate segregation
I wish there wasn't racism
I hope my life isn't queer
I only want to be free.
And so the world would look deeper than the skin color and see the inner beauty in me.

I am smart and intelligent
I am scared and confused
I am nice to all women
Even if they're rude
I hate that white think they're better than blacks
And I know they're wrong I know that for a fact.
I know they think they did something when they ended my life
They're lucky my parents weren't ghetto and wanted to end the strife

I am gone
Nonexistant but my spirit persistent
So please keep my legend alive, please keep it alive in me.
And people keep hope alive in freedom don't give up just wait and see.
-- Shamile Allison, Chicago

Ruleville, a small town pierced with a racial past and a gloomy future, as segregation permeates the community. Reminiscing of the 38th parallel, the community is pretty much divided into two separate sections; black and white. Having been reduced to hush whispers of yesteryear, racism is the new high blood pressure of the community. Many residence are unwilling to give up their hateful practice, just as addicts are reluctant to give up their cigarettes. It is the ultimate problem that has never been conquered by this community. Although, not wanting to take anything away from Ruleville it has made some progress, but there is much hope this community someday will give up it's ignorant bigotry, and its antiquated ways and realize everyone is equal. This is CRB reporting from Ruleville Central high School and always remember the words of Maya Angelou "If you don't like something change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."
-- Cicely Bolden, Ruleville, writing in the form of a news report

I am Emmett Till
I love my skin
My School is McCosh
I live on 6427 S. St. Lawrence
I am Emmett Till
I was killed for whistling at a white woman
My Skin
My Face
Was it called for?
I did get beat
And I will have justice
Who am I?
Emmett Till
Where do I go?
What do I do?
Go to the Supreme Court
For Justice (14th Amendment)
I love my name
Will they visit
I hope
Will they find out what happened?
Why was I killed?
Yes, because I am Emmett Till
I am
Emmett Till
-- Brenda Gaudy, Chicago

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