Till Trial - Mose Wright Accuses Bryant and Milam

Till Trial-Mose Wright Accuses Bryant and Milam

Mose Wright (also called Moses Wright) was Emmett Till's great-uncle.  When Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam were tried for the murder of Emmett Till, Mose Wright accused the men of kidnapping his nephew. 

Pointing his finger at the defendants, Mose made it clear he knew who they were and what they had done.  It was the first time anyone could remember that a black man had publicly accused a white man of a crime - then lived to later tell the story.

Despite the Judge's order prohibiting photographs during the trial, Ernest Withers - from The Chicago Defender - took this picture.  At the time, Mose Wright was 64 years old.

News reporters - including whites - were threatened during the same murder trial.  John Chancellor, then a reporter from NBC news, was in Sumner when he was heckled by a group of angry people outside the court house.  We learn the story from The Race Beat, by Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff (split into paragraphs, here, for easier reading):

Already in Mississippi when the verdict came down, Chancellor had been sent to the Delta to get reactions for NBC.  With a tape recorder the size of a shoebox slung over his shoulder and a microphone as small as a postage stamp in his hand, he began interviewing.  As he talked with a Negro woman, he saw fear flash across her face.  She turned and ran.  He saw a flying wedge of white toughs coming at him. 

Chancellor squared off against them and help up the only object he could find to defend himself, an object whose power he had not, until that moment, truly fathomed.  Thrusting the tiny microphone toward the men, Chancellor blurted out, "I don't care what you're going to do to me, but the whole world is going to know it."  (The Race Beat, pages 155-56.)

Television was still a new medium of communication in September of 1955, when Chancellor was reporting on the murder trial.  Yet, the power of moving pictures in family homes was already transforming local stories into national news.  Two years after the Till trial:

...the power of broadcast was becoming even more evident.  Both Chancellor and [Reuven] Frank [the NBC news producer] had gambled their careers in 1950.  Had they switched to the obvious alternative, radio news, maybe nobody would have been shocked.  More than 95 percent of the homes in the United States owned radios in 1950.  But television?  Only 5 percent owned them, and there were only ninety-six television stations nationwide.  But by 1957, Chancellor and Frank could look back and marvel at their own wisdom:  now more than eight out of ten homes owned televisions, and the number of stations had surpassed five hundred.  (Race Beat, page 156.)

Media Credits

Photo of Mose Wright at the murder trial of Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, online courtesy Jet magazine and Wikimedia Commons.


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"Till Trial - Mose Wright Accuses Bryant and Milam" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Nov 21, 2019.
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