A Murder That Lit a Spark For Social Change - Game Script The case of Emmett Till and its historical significance


Background

Hello and welcome to Jet magazine headquarters,

I am the editor of Jet and the year is 1956. Today marks the 1 year anniversary of the brutal murder of Emmett Till. We have invited you hear today to act as the voice of your generation.. to help change the future of American society.

Each of you will have the opportunity to take a look at primary documents and testimonies surrounding the murder of Till and the civil rights movement. 

You have the power to wake people up.. to make them realize that racism is a very real problem in our country and if we don't end it now. Racism will continue to be an institutionalized problem in American society if you don't stop it now!

 

Characters

Louis Law Law Student

You are a passionate freshman in college studying law. Although your mother is a history teacher, and your father is a businessman, you have always had a desire to go to law school and maybe one day become a district attorney. 


Your Task

Dear Louis, the civil rights era in the United States has brought some of the most controversial criminal cases in history. Your job is to explain the context of the Emmett Till murder trial against Bryant and Milam and argue the injustices that occurred in the courtroom.  

Try to establish your arguments using the resources offered to you. They are worth reading...


Resources

Scene - 01

Jessica Justice Student and Black Lives Matter Activist

The story of Emmett Till is close to your heart because it reminds you a lot of Trayvon Martin, the Florida native that was fatally shot in 2012. Ever since Black Lives Matter had a rally in your hometown last year, you have been an avid participant in similar protests and an advocate for all people, whether they are Hispanic, African American, Caucasian, Asian, etc. 


Your Task

Dear Jessica, your goal is to explain the reactions and moral outrage that the American community felt after Till's murder in 1955 and throughout the civil rights movement.

Try to establish your arguments using the resources offered to you. They are worth reading...


Resources

Scene - 01

Sally Civil Student and Aspiring Journalist

You're the editor of your high school's newspaper and you have always dreamed to study journalism and public diplomacy in college. 


Your Task

Dear Sally, it is your job to explain the historical importance of Jet magazine in the context of Emmett Till's murder and its influence on the world. 

Try to establish your arguments using the resources offered to you. They are worth reading...


Resources

Scene - 01

Ray Rights Student and History Junkie

Social studies speak to you. Not only is it interesting, but you feel that understanding the significance of historical events has a critical impact on the future of mankind.


Your Task

Dear Ray, some of the most insightful figures in history were a part of the civil rights movement. Malcom X, Martin Luther King jr. Your job is to present their views.

Try to establish your arguments using the resources offered to you. They are worth reading...


Resources

Scene - 01

Parker Principium Political Science Student

Politics to you is like candy to a 7 year old on Halloween. College life has been difficult to adjust to but your academic career is just starting to take off.


Your Task

Dear Parker, your job is to explain the political environment surrounding the murder of Emmett Till and the Civil Rights movement.  

Try to establish your arguments using the resources offered to you. They are worth reading...


Resources

Scene - 01

Scene 1: Do you think it was morally correct to publish the pictures in a magazine?



1.

Public Message

Welcome,

I am the editor of Jet magazine and the year is 1956. Today marks the 1 year anniversary of the brutal murder of Emmett Till. We have invited you hear today to act as the voice of your generation.. to help change the future of American society.

Each of you will have the opportunity to take a look at primary documents and testimonies surrounding the murder of Till and the civil rights movement. 

You have the power to wake people up.. to make them realize that racism is a very real problem in our country and if we don't end it now. Racism will continue to be an institutionalized problem in American society if you don't stop it now!



2.

Private (Shortly After previous message)

Louis Law:

Based on the resources given, you should explain the context of the Emmett Till murder trial against Bryant and Milam. Argue the injustices that occurred in the courtroom. 

Good luck!

Jessica Justice:

Based on the resources given, you should explain the influence Till's murder had and the moral outrage it caused in the American community.

Good luck!

Sally Civil:

Based on the resources given, You should explain the historical importance of Jet magazine in the context of Emmett Till's murder and its influence on the world. 

Best of luck!

Ray Rights:

Based on the resources given, you should present the testimonies of Civil Rights activists. How did this specific moment in history influence the broader movement of civil rights?

Parker Principium:

Based on the resources given, You should explain the political environment surrounding the murder of Emmett Till and the Civil Rights movement.  

What did the president have to say? What about other important political leaders of this time?



3.

Public Message (Shortly After previous message)

Hey everyone!

Remember that it is 1956! There are no cell phones or Internet access.. People's main source of information is newspapers, radio, and magazines! Televisions are just entering the scene! Life is different, and in a way, more sheltered than your lives are in 2015.

In addition to presenting your individual thoughts and arguments, discuss the significance of publishing graphic material in Jet



4.

Private (a while after previous message)

Louis Law:

The jury consisted of an all-white jury... why is that relevant?

Jessica Justice:

Jessica,

Remember the song, Death of Emmett Till? Bob Dylan was 20 years old when he wrote this song. As the civil rights movement took over, Dylan hopped on the bandwagon and created many songs that were a force during the late 50's and especially in the 60's.

A lot of public figures, like Dylan, got involved in the fight for equal rights. Why was this important?

Sally Civil:

How did the images of Emmett Till's body in Jet magazine add to the moral outrage that Jessica is talking about?

Ray Rights:

Ray,

Another pivotal moment in the Civil Rights movement was when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus. How is Till's murder related to this event?

Keep up the good work!

Parker Principium:

How's it going Parker?

An important part of being a national magazine is that we have the ability to be a voice of the people.

What did the people have to say about President Eisenhower's reaction to Till's murder and the subsequent trial?



5.

Public Message (a while after previous message)

In present day, do you think it is important for the public to see photos of dead bodies that resulted from racial injustices, similar to the ones in Jet

How do you think people would react? 

How frequent should these photos be published?

Would people become desensitized after seeing so many bodies?



End Message

Well done team!

Now that you have had time to question, analyze, argue, and hear what the team had to say, write an argumentative essay in response to the question: To what extent was this event a pivotal moment in the history of the civil rights movement? 



Discussion Points

  1. When did the civil rights movement begin?
  2. What does it mean for an event to be pivotal in history? In your own life?
  3. What happened to Emmett Till? How did people respond?
  4. How do people respond to violence and injustice today?