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Race Relations in the US since 1954

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Race Relations in the USA since 1954 In this essay I am going to analyse, explain and conclude the murder cases and trials of both Emmett Till and James Byrd. I will further my answer by including information obtained from historical developments which took place after the murder of Emmett Till. Emmett Louis "Bobo" Till was an African-American teenager from Illinois, Chicago. Maime Till Bradley gave birth to him on July 25th 1941 when she was married to Louis Till. Maime and Louis Till had separated in 1942. Till and his cousin went to Till's great-uncle Mose Wright's for the summer of 1955. Till's Mother had warned Emmett precedent to his departure to mind his manners in Money, Mississippi, specifically with white people. Mississippi had had many lynchings in the past century, thus Maime Till was extensively aware of the possibility of a racially motivated murder. Also, a year prior to Till's visit, a decision concerning the end of segregation in public education was made which created further tension. On top of this, the Jim Crow Laws were still enforced. These laws - which were enacted in Southern states between 1876 and 1965 - made sure African Americans were "separate but equal" to white people. However, they were certainly not equal. This image is one example of the poor treatment that blacks received solely on the reason that they were thought to be inferior to whites. These laws basically made sure as much segregation as possible was used to separate blacks from whites in almost every aspect of life. Black people were prohibited from sitting in the same section as whites in buses and trains; they couldn't attend the same schools as whites and were separated in theatres. Black school children would be harassed and spat on by "mature" white adults. This emphasises how racist America really was. One rule stated: "Blacks were not allowed to show public affection towards one another in public, especially kissing, because it offended whites". ...read more.

Middle

This difference took a massive impact in the final decisions of the juries. The jury of Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam's trial had come to a conclusion after just one hour of discussion. According to sources, within that hour they took a soda break to amplify the duration of time. On the other hand, Byrd's jury took several hours on each of the three participants. The final verdicts of the two cases were also different. Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam were immediately not guilty. No punishments in any way whatsoever were given. Oppositely, Shawn Allen Berry, Lawrence Russel Brewer and John William King were all found guilty of murder. King and Brewer were sentenced to death by lethal injection. However, Berry was sentenced to life in prison because his record hadn't shown any previous racist actions and he didn't have any white supremacist tattoos unlike Berry and King. When Byrd's murderers were found guilty, Americans from all ranges of ethnic groups applauded the verdict. However, when Emmett Till's offenders were charged not guilty, the most of America weren't really surprised. This emphasises the extreme progress, which happened within the space of the two murders. It also shows that by 1998, America had acknowledged, accepted and supported the negativity of racism. As you can see, there are several similarities in the build-up of the trials. However, the trials themselves are almost opposite in structure and verdict. After Emmett Till's death, the awareness of racism within the media and public eye increased greatly. Therefore, various different campaigns and organisations were formed. One of which took place in December 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama. Rosa Parks, a black 42 year-old woman refused to give her seat up to a white man on a segregated bus. Rosa Parks was tired after a hard day of working but would've most probably given up her seat to a child or elderly person. However, on this occasion she was fed up of racist discrimination and stood up for what she believed in. ...read more.

Conclusion

Emmett Till was murdered on August 27th 1955, whereas James Byrd was killed on June 7th 1998. An enormous 43 years separated these racist murders. Yet the reason behind the lynchings was almost identical. This brings me on to the second difference. The Jim Crow Laws were enforced between 1876 and 1965. These laws were used basically to ensure blacks were made inferior to whites. Emmett Till was murdered during the 'reign' of the laws. A racist murder within these 89 years in southern USA wasn't incredibly uncommon. On the other hand, James Byrd was lynched 33 years after the termination of the Jim Crow laws where a racist murder was prodigiously rare. The trial for Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam (the murderers of Emmett Till) had a jury, which consisted of 12 white males. Considering a substantial quantity of southern Americans were in favour of white superiority, a dominantly white jury isn't the fairest of decisions. However, the jury at the James Byrd trial contained a range of different races and ethnic groupings. This difference took a massive impact in the final decisions of the juries. The jury of Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam's trial had come to a conclusion after just one hour of discussion. According to sources, within that hour they took a soda break to amplify the duration of time. On the other hand, Byrd's jury took several hours on each of the three participants. The final verdicts of the two cases were also different. Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam were immediately not guilty. No punishments in any way whatsoever were given. Oppositely, Shawn Allen Berry, Lawrence Russel Brewer and John William King were all found guilty of murder. King and Brewer were sentenced to death by lethal injection. However, Berry was sentenced to life in prison because his record hadn't shown any previous racist actions and he didn't have any white supremacist tattoos unlike Berry and King. As you can see, there are several similarities in the build-up of the trials. However, the trials themselves are almost opposite in structure and verdict. ...read more.

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