Tuesday, March 2, 2004
Getting Away With Murder
Crow, Chris. 2003. GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER: THE TRUE STORY OF THE EMMETT TILL CASE. New York: Dial Books. ISBN 0803728042 [Suggested Grade Levels 7 and up]
SUMMARY and ANALYSIS
Crow’s account presents the true story of the 1954 murder of fourteen-year-old Emmett Till as well as the trial of the men accused of the crime. Till, a black 14-year-old from Chicago, was brutally murdered while visiting relatives in the Mississippi Delta. While surprisingly few know about the Till case, the gruesome, racially motivated crime and the acquittal of the white murderer’s sparked national interest in the inequalities of the South and provided a powerful catalyst for the civil rights movement.
Crowe’s nonfiction account shares the events that led up to Till’s murder. Crowe details what happened on the horrible night, the court proceedings, and how the nation responded-- the "aftershocks" of the unbelievable ruling. He effectively paints Till as an average teen whose seemingly benign mistake costs him his life. The book gives much attention to detailing the climate of the American South, allowing readers to better understand the historical context of the event. Crow’s choice in including the infamous black-and-white photo of Emmett’s disfigured corpse is important to note; while the image is shocking, it provides readers with a real sense of the horrific nature of the unpunished crime. The account offers additional photos which focus on Emmett’s life as well as events and key players in the trial. Crowe’s narrative makes the book compelling and difficult to put down. In addition, he provides in-text references and a concluding bibliography, as well as a time line and a list of further resources about the case.
The Till case could be used as a springboard for a lesson or unit on different civil rights movements held throughout the world. Before reading Crowe’s account, teens could complete a KWL chart to determine what they know regarding the case, as well as the history of The Civil Rights Movement in America. After reading, the list could be revisited so that they could determine what questions they have.
Teens could read Crowe’s other work regarding the Till case (MISSISSIPPI TRIAL, 1955) to search for differences between how the story is delivered. After a reading of both, teens could discuss which book they liked better and provide rationales for their opinions.
Other stories about the Emmett Till murder and court case:
Crow, Chris. MISSISSIPPI TRIAL, 1955. ISBN 0380714086
Till-Mobley, Mamie and Christopher Benson. DEATH OF INNOCENCE: THE STORY OF THE HATE CRIME THAT CHANGED AMERICA. ISBN 1400061172
Whitfield, Stephen J. A DEATH IN THE DELTA: THE STORY OF EMMETT TILL. ISBN 080184326X
By Rose Brock