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Getting Away with Murder: The True Story of…

Getting Away with Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case (2003)

by Chris Crowe

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This book strikes such a deep emotional chord that it is nearly as difficult to review as it was to read. With phrases such as “integration was a Communist/Socialist plot to destroy America” (p. 31) and a trial that played out like that of Trayvon Martin, I had to keep at the forefront of my mind that what I was reading did, in fact, happen more than 60 years ago. But it still happens today.
The author does a great job of focusing on the events of mid-century America and letting the reader draw his or her own connections to the modern day. He fully sets the stage for these events, including details such as the opening of McDonald’s, helping to transport readers into the past. The final chapter, “Aftershocks,” updates the events to the point of the fortieth anniversary of Emmett’s murder in 1995, but goes no further. A photograph of Mamie Till on that anniversary is the only non-contemporary photograph within the book. The many primary sources concretely place the reader in the 1950’s.
Throughout the book, “Black” is capitalized while “white” is not when referring to the color of a human’s skin. This gave me pause. After some research, I agreed with the author’s use of capitalization. An author’s note on his usage would have been important to include, especially to make this a better teaching tool and clarify his intentions to a young and impressionable audience. A time line, bibliography, and list of additional resources a great, but an index and glossary are noticeably missing and could have been helpful regarding this book being a teaching tool.
Despite being such a difficult book to digest, I highly recommend this book to anyone old enough to deal with the tragic subject matter and gruesome photograph of Emmett Till’s body. The description of the trial becomes tedious to read, but is entirely necessary to convey an understanding of how unfair were the proceedings. On page 60, the author describes his sources: trial transcripts and post-trial interviews. He points out that "where the sources don't agree, the trial testimony takes precedence over the...interviews." In other parts of the book, like on pages 54 and 55, he makes it clear that we do not and will never know exactly what words were said and what actions played out in that rural shop so many decades ago. He does not try to fill in unknown details for the sake of good story telling, but presents multiple viewpoints and accounts of the story, acknowledging contradictions and the fallacy of human memory. ( )
  ProfDesO | Feb 14, 2017 |
This is a book I would teach with 5th grade students. The book is a tough read and has some hard issues in it such as rape and murder. However, this is a good book to read in Social Studies, as an introductory to the civil rights movement. This is because the unjust death of Emit Till was the spark that started the movement.
  aburgin01 | Apr 29, 2016 |
This book would be good for when you have already started talking about segregation and its effects. It could be used as to show just how unfair life was for African Americans. It could also be used for analyzing multiple accounts of segregation and racism and from there students, or as a whole class, will find the similarities and differences between the different counts and discuss them.
  whitneyosborne | Apr 18, 2016 |
On a hot steamy August evening, young fourteen year old boy Emmett Till and his cousins, despite the rules of Emmett's uncle, left church and walked to a rural store in Money, Mississippi. A checker game was happening on the front porch.

From Chicago, Ill, young Emmett was not accustomed to the Jim Crow laws of the south. While the exact details of what Emmett said to the white, pretty, beauty contest winner wife of Roy Bryant, his behavior was enough to enrage Roy Bryant and his step brother J.W. Milam.

A few days later, Emmett's bloated, beaten-beyond recognition, body was found in the Tallahatchie river.

This book focus on the travesty and lack of justice when Emmett's murderers were placed on trial. Admitting to kidnapping, both Boy and J.W. told the sheriff that they left him go.

There were others in the shed who assisted in pistol whipping Emmett. Two of whom were hidden by the sheriff at the time of the trial.

Despite the fact that Roy and J.W. were not considered quality people by all who knew them, they were acquitted and left go.

There was in fact no way a black boy could live after breaking the strict rule of keeping black men away from white women. For perhaps swaggering into the store and calling Caroline Bryant "baby", the price Emmett paid as with his life.

Considered the event that ushered in the Civil Rights movement, Emmett's mother kept vigil at his casket as thousands marched past witnessing the horror of his badly beaten body.

As Bryant and Milam were ostracized by people in the rural community, their popularity lessened. Blacks protested by not buying things at the Bryant store. Soon, both Bryant and Milam found it difficult to make ends meet. Thus, when Look magazine promised $3,500 for the story of how they murdered Emmett, Bryant and Milam gladly gave up the details.

For all to read, these two near do wells, bragged about the murder. Within the next few years, the Civil Rights movement, including Rosa Park's refusal to give up her seat on the bus, and the huge bus boycott, were major steps by blacks justifiably showing they had had enough.
  Whisper1 | Apr 18, 2016 |
Outlines the events of 14-year-old Emmett Till's murder at the hands of two white men in Mississippi and the murder trial. Provides the social and political background of the country at the time of the events, plus the aftereffects on the civil rights movement. Point of interest: the adherence to "southern pride" even though no one liked the accussed, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam. Would have liked to see more photos of Emmett before the event but I imagine these were not available or existent.
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
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“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., August 28, 1963
I have the same dream for my four children and for all children who live in our land of the free.   I dedicate this book to them.
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I was born near Chicago, Illinois, in 1954, just one year before fourteen-year-old Emmett Tille was murdered in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi.   (Introduction)
In August 1955, a group of white men murdered a fourteen-year-old Black boy in the Mississippi Delta.  (Chapter 1)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0803728042, Hardcover)

The kidnapping and murder of Emmett Till is famous as a catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement. Emmett Till, a fourteen-year-old Black teenager from Chicago, was visiting family in a small town in Mississippi during the summer of 1955. Likely showing off to friends, Emmett allegedly whistled at a white woman. Three days later his brutally beaten body was found floating in the Tallahatchie River. The extreme violence of the crime put a national spotlight on the Jim Crow ways of the South, and many Americans-Black and white-were further outraged at the speedy trial of the white murderers.  Although the two white men were tried and acquitted by an all-white jury, they later bragged publicly about the crime. It was a galvanizing moment for Black leaders and ordinary citizens, including such activists as Rosa Parks.  In clear, vivid detail Chris Crowe investigates the before-and-aftermath of the crime, as well as the dramatic court trial, and places it into the context of the nascent Civil Rights Movement.

With lively narrative and abundantly illustrated with forty fascinating contemporaneous photographs, this impressive work of nonfiction brings fresh insight to the case in a manner that will be accessible and eye-opening for teenagers and adults alike.


(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:31 -0400)

Presents a true account of the murder of fourteen-year-old, Emmett Till, in Mississippi, in 1955.

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