Paired Texts > Emmett Till
We've identified these texts as great options for text pairings based on similar themes, literary devices, topic, or writing style. Supplement your lesson with one or more of these options and challenge students to compare and contrast the texts. To assign a paired text, click on the text to go to its page and click the "Assign Text" button there.
On the evening of February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin, a 17-year old African American boy from Florida, was fatally shot by a George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer. Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder and was found "not guilty" by a jury in July of 2013. These are the remarks of President Barack Obama after the trial.Pair “President Obama’s Remarks on Trayvon Martin Ruling” with “Emmett Till” and ask students to discuss the national reaction to these high-profile deaths of black teenagers. How are their cases similar, and how have American responses to such tragedies changed in the half century separating them?
The bombing of the 16th Street Church in Birmingham, Alabama during the 1960s was both a tragic and pivotal event of the Civil Rights movement.Pair “The 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing” with “Emmett Till” and ask students to discuss the violent reactions of Southerners to shifting American attitudes regarding racial inequality. What about the American South allowed for such violence when dealing with issues of race? How did both Emmett Till’s murder and the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing affect national opinion on race, equality, and justice?
The informational text "Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott" explores one moment of resistance that inspired countless others and resulted in breakthrough changes in the United States.Pair “Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott” with “Emmett Till” and ask students to reflect on the influence Emmett Till’s murder had on the Civil Rights Movement. Do students think Rosa would have acted as she did if she hadn’t been thinking of Emmett?
In "The Scottsboro Boys," Jessica McBirney discusses the historic event in which nine black boys were wrongfully accused and convicted of assault.Pair “Emmett Till” with “The Scottsboro Boys” and ask students to compare how the justice system is depicted in the South in both texts. How did the skewed legal system of the time benefit Emmett Till’s murderers just as much as it condemned the Scottsboro Boys? How did these two events impact the Civil Rights Movement?
In "Tuskegee Airmen," Jessica McBirney focuses on the group of African-American pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen, who were were critical to the success of the U.S. Army during World War II and whose accomplishments led to the desegregation of the military.Pair “Emmett Till” with “Tuskegee Airmen” and ask students to discuss the events leading up to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. How did the events mentioned in both texts play into the national conversation about race and equality?
In J. Patrick Lewis's poem "Freedom Summer," James Chaney narrates the moment when he and two other volunteers were kidnapped and killed by the KKK.Pair “Emmet Till” with “Freedom Summer” and ask students to discuss how people use violence to challenge change. How did the events of the two texts impact the Civil Rights movement? Why do students think that the events depicted in the two texts are considered significant moments in the Civil Rights movement?
Nikki Giovanni's poem "Rosa Parks" recounts some of the important contributions that people have made to the Civil Rights Movement.Pair “Emmett Till” with “Rosa Parks” in order to provide students with background information on the murder of Emmett Till, and how his death came to spark the Civil Rights movement. Consider the decision Mamie Till made to hold an open casket funeral and its subsequent effects on others, particularly the details on how it affected Rosa Parks. In light of reading this text, how has your view changed on the role the Pullman Porters played within the Civil Rights movement?
In "Excerpt from Southern Horrors: Lynch Laws in All Its Phases," historical activist Ida B. Wells discusses the injustice and horrors of Southern lynch laws, focusing on the violence against African Americans following the Civil War.Pair “Emmett Till” with “Excerpt from 'Southern Horrors: Lynch Laws in All Its Phases'” and ask students to discuss the tragic death of Emmett Till and the history of lynching. Why was Emmett killed? What were the consequences of this fourteen-year-old’s murder? How did the historical and cultural climate at the time receive the news of his murder — and how was this setting different from that of the countless deaths of other African Americans in Wells’ time?