By the 1950s, the Civil Rights Movement was gaining momentum. Membership in the NAACP increased in states across the . A 1955 lynching that sparked public outrage about injustice was that of Emmett Till , a 14-year-old boy from Chicago. Spending the summer with relatives in Money, Mississippi , Till was killed for allegedly having wolf-whistled at a white woman. Till had been badly beaten, one of his eyes was gouged out, and he was shot in the head before being thrown into the Tallahatchie River , his body weighed down with a 70-pound (32 kg) cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire. David Jackson writes that Mamie Till , Emmett's Mother, "brought him home to Chicago and insisted on an open casket. Tens of thousands filed past Till's remains, but it was the publication of the searing funeral image in Jet , with a stoic Mamie gazing at her murdered child's ravaged body, that forced the world to reckon with the brutality of American racism."  News photographs circulated around the country, and drew intense public reaction. The visceral response to his mother's decision to have an open-casket funeral mobilized the black community throughout the .  Vann R. Newkirk| wrote "the trial of his killers became a pageant illuminating the tyranny of white supremacy ".  The state of Mississippi tried two defendants, but they were speedily acquitted by an all-white jury . 
Before the story likes us into the Congo basin proper we are given this nice little vignette as an example of things in their place:
The men who peddled contracts in North Lawndale would sell homes at inflated prices and then evict families who could not pay—taking their down payment and their monthly installments as profit. Then they’d bring in another black family, rinse, and repeat. “He loads them up with payments they can’t meet,” an office secretary told The Chicago Daily News of her boss, the speculator Lou Fushanis, in 1963. “Then he takes the property away from them. He’s sold some of the buildings three or four times.”
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In Louisiana, the number of registered black voters plummeted from 130,334 in 1896 to 5,320 in 1898. Fraudulent voting schemes pushed black elected officials from state legislatures and from Congress. During the late 19th century, there were 20 black members of Congress . When North Carolina's George Henry White left in 1901, there would not be another until 1928, when Oscar DePriest was elected in Chicago. For virtually the first half of the 20th century the 15th Amendment had no value for blacks in the former Confederate states, where they were denied the right to vote through the cynical artifice of poll taxes, literacy tests and grandfather clauses.