Today marks the anniversary of two key events in the Civil Rights Movement. The first, the 1955 murder of 14 year old Emmett Till, shocked the nation. According to reports, Till whistled at Carolyn Bryant - a white woman whose husband owned the Mississippi store where the boy and his cousins had bought some candy. When her husband - Roy Bryant - learned of the incident, he and his half-brother - J.W. Milam - went looking for Till. They found him sleeping at his uncle's house a little after midnight on August 28, 1955 and loaded him into the back of their pickup. His body was found in the Tallahatchie River three days later. He had been beaten and shot. Bryant and Milam were charged with his murder, but were acquitted of the crime. They later confessed.
The second event was the 1963 March on Washington during which Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech. It was estimated that between 200,000 - 300,000 participants crowded into the area between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial in support of civil and economic rights for African Americans. In addition to King, the day's speakers included John Lewis, Roy Wilkins, and Whitney Young with performances by Mahalia Jackson, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Marian Anderson. The March is widely credited with helping to pass the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Voting Rights Act (1965).
To learn more about the March on Washington & the Civil Rights Movement, try the following resources:
- The 1963 March on Washington (Life)
- Civil Rights (BrainPop)
- Emmett Till & the Impact of Images (NPR)
- Finishing the Dream (NBC Learn)
- The King Center
- The March on Washington (NPR)
- The Murder of Emmett Till (American Experience)
- Newsfile: Civil Rights Movement (Time)
- Official Program for the March on Washington (Our Documents)