Madera students hold mock trial for Emmett Till case

Brittany Jacob Image
Thursday, March 31, 2022
Madera students hold mock trial for Emmett Till case
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Just one day after President Biden signed into law the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act, eighth graders in Madera took class to the court - holding a mock trial for the Emmett Till ca

MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Madera students and teachers brought history to life.

On Wednesday, eighth graders from Eastin-Arcola and La Vina Elementary Schools continued their fight for justice inside the Madera County courthouse museum.

Eighth-grader Hasani Heard was the lead prosecutor in the trial.

"We get to be a part of history and be in it, so we can really learn through experience instead of reading it off a textbook or something," Heard said.

The students investigated several lynchings and discovered the murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American.

A mob brutally killed him in 1955 for allegedly flirting with a white woman.

Gueorgina Bojorquez says her passion for writing using her voice was reignited.

"Knowing that we were able to come and speak about it and make a great difference, it's just really big and important to me because I was able to help out with the community and make a difference in history," Bojorquez said.

The audience was filled with community members, school officials and a lady who was actually at Emmett Till's funeral more than 60 years ago.

"I'm honored to be present at both ends of this history," she said.

The students held what looked like an actual trial, with opening and closing statements, depositions, and even court officials.

Madera Superior Court Judge Ernest LiCalsi presided over the trial. County Sheriff Tyson Pogue served as bailiff.

Members from Madera's NAACP chapter were the jurors.

The mock court concluded with jurors finding Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam guilty of the murder of Emmett Till.

The students saw it as a way to reverse the injustice of the 1955 trial, where an all-white jury found the men not guilty. The next year, they admitted to the crime.