At first Hiram is excited to visit his hometown in Mississippi. But soon after he arrives, he crosses paths with Emmett Till, a black teenager from Chicago who is also visiting for the summer, and Hiram sees firsthand how the local whites mistreat blacks who refuse to "know their place." When Emmett's tortured dead body is found floating in a river, Hiram is determined to find out who could do such a thing. But what will it cost him to know? Mississippi Trial, 1955 is a gripping read, based on true events that helped spark the Civil Rights Movement.
A 14-year-old boy named Emmett Till from Chicago, visiting his relatives in the Mississippi Delta in 1955, was accused of speaking disrespectfully to a white woman. He was kidnapped and murdered. Most people in town knew who the murderers were but at the trial, those arrested were acquitted by a "jury of their peers" e.g., white men. Chris Crowe uses the facts of this historical event, which outraged many people across the nation and was a factor in the success of the Civil Rights Movement, to tell a fictional story narrated by a white boy awakened to the truth of racial hatred. Hiram is this narrator. He is having trouble with his father who is having trouble with his father, Hiram's grandfather. Hiram was left with his grandparents during the war and later, when his father was getting graduate degrees to enable him to take the family away from the South. The memory of his time in the small Southern town with his grandparents is dear to him and he can't understand why his father wants to get as far away from the South as he can taking a job in Arizona. Hiram is away for some years until the grandfather suffers a stroke and Hiram asks to return for the summer to help out. This is the summer of Emmett Till's murder. Crowe tells convincingly how Hiram loves the South and later how appalled he is at the worst of the tradition there of Jim Crow and segregation and hatred. An 18-year-old bully, once a kind of childhood friend of Hiram's, torments Emmett Till in Hiram's presence, which horrifies Hiram and prepares him for his outrage at Emmett's eventual murder. Black characters such as Ruthanne,