Author: Chris Crowe
Audience: Grades 5-12
Summary: Emmett Till, a fourteen-year-old black teenager from Chicago, was visiting family in a small town in Mississippi during the summer of 1955. It was said that Emmett whistled at a white woman, something forbidden for a black male. Three days later his brutally beaten body was found floating in the Tallahatchie River. Two white men were tried and acquitted by an all-white jury and later bragged publicly about the crime
Literary elements at work in the story: In clear, vivid detail this book gives the detail of the crime, as well as the dramatic court trial. With lively narrative, illustrations and photographs, this impressive book brings insight to the case in a way that is accessible and eye-opening for teenagers and adults alike.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story: The kidnapping and murder of Emmett Till is famous as a catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement. The extreme violence of the crime put a national spotlight on the ways of the South.
Scripture: Matthew 22: 36-40
Theology: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. This passage has been cited and spoken so many times that its familiarity can cause us to gloss over it. However, when we look at the words in the context of the world our focus becomes clear again. The story of the Civil Rights Movement is the story of these words. By committing to non-violence, the movement took these words to heart. Non-violent protest involves loving you neighbor as much as protesting their actions. Martin Luther King, Jr. called for people to respect, love and care for each other, not kill each other. You can not love God and kill a 14 year old for speaking to someone. You can not love God and systematically put someone down because they look different or are a member of a different religion. You can not love God and kill someone because they have different views from you. Loving God means respecting and caring for all of God’s people regardless of where they live, what they look like, or what they believe.
Faith Talk Questions:
1. Why was Emmett murdered?
2. What did Emmett’s mother do that brought his murder to the attention of the country?
3. Can you think of a group today that is treated unfairly? Why?
4. Do you have to like someone to love them?
5. What can you do to help love your neighbor, even the ones you don’t like?
Other books like this one: The Short Life of Sophie Scholl by Hermann Vinke; Thanks to My Mother by Schoschana Rabinovici; Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata.
Review prepared by Janet Lloyd