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Colorblind and Rising: What’s Behind The Surprising success of Cleveland’s Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School?

COLORBLIND AND RISING: WHAT’S BEHIND THE SURPRISING SUCCESS OF CLEVELAND’S VILLA ANGELA-ST. JOSEPH HIGH SCHOOL?

  • September 23, 2014
    By Daniel J. McGraw

Rich Osborne is slowly walking through the gym of Villa Angela-St. Joseph’s High School(VASJ), a Catholic school on the east side of Cleveland. Villa Angela-St. Joseph has been around for about 25 years now, since the separately operated all-boys and all-girls schools pretty much had to combine as a coed school to save their existence. When Osborne went to school – he graduated from St. Joe’s in 1969 – the gym was the center of much of his life.

VASJ President Richard J. Osborne (class of ’69) and wife, Della, leaving for the St. Joseph High School junior prom, 1968. They also went to senior prom together in 1969 and were married in 1970.

VASJ President Richard J. Osborne (class of ’69) and wife, Della, leaving for the St. Joseph High School junior prom, 1968. They also went to senior prom together in 1969 and were married in 1970. [Photo: Richard J. Osborne]

For instance, he asked a Villa Angela girl named Della to dance with him at a mixer here in this gym. Rich and Della had known each other in grade school, but, since she was a year older, he was shy about asking her out. That night in the gym, he saw her standing with some of her girlfriends and got up the nerve. “A lot of stuff happened in here,” Osborne says with a laugh and a bit of a twinkle in his eye.

They slow-danced on the tile floor and later married, had four children and, now, nine grandchildren, together. Osborne doesn’t remember which band was playing that night, but it was the late 60s and it was probably the Mods or the Choir or the Raspberries or one of those famous Cleveland bands from back then that made the St. Joe’s dances the place to be when the baby boomers were coming of age.

I remember being in this gym a lot too. We played CYO basketball every Saturday morning when I was in grade school, and I remember distinctly watching Pat Lyons (he has since passed away), the all-state St. Joe’s basketball player who scored an amazing 24 points per game in 1970. We all chanted “P Ly’s Come in” before those high school games started, and he would always then drain his first shot, a warm-up jumper from 20 feet. It all happened in a daze of purple — this gym used to be called the “Purple Palace,” after the low-resolution fluorescent lights that bounced photons off the blue and red tile floor, creating a purple veil of eeriness that confused opponents and helped the home team win some games.

Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School President Rich Osborne

Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School President Rich Osborne – Photo Bob Perkoski

The two schools used to have a combined 2,000-3,000 students back in the 1970s, but five years ago enrollment was down to about 265. The conventional opinion among alums of both schools was not if the school was going to close, but when. “Each fall, the school would open, and it was almost as if we were saying, ‘We’re not dead this year,’” Osborne says.

Most thought VASJ story was going to play out along the lines of the typical decline of an inner-city Midwest Catholic school script: there has been job and population loss in the city, increasing poverty in the neighborhood. Many white Catholics left for the suburbs a few generations ago, and many graduates no longer felt ties to their alma mater. Older St. Joe’s grads, most of them white, saw black kids hanging out on the corner of the school at East 185thStreet and Lakeshore Boulevard after school. As a guy who graduated in the mid-80s told me, “You’d drive by, and you’d think that isnt my school.

When the enrollment dropped to those dangerous lows about five years ago, the alumni weren’t thrilled with ponying up money, because who wants to throw money at a school whose shelf life is getting shorter by the day? And while Cleveland cheerleaders like to point to all the quaint urban neighborhood rebirth, this part of Northeast Ohio has never really been in that trendy category. VASJ sits at the border of Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood and the City of Euclid, and on both sides of that border much of the working middle class left a long time ago. Crime and Section 8 housing moved into the void.

Thomas Gallucci's ('03 alumnus) English class at Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School

Thomas Gallucci’s (’03 alumnus) English class at Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School – Photo Bob Perkoski

But in the past few months, an odd thing has happened. Last spring, VASJ graduated 38 seniors. This fall, about 130 freshmen are enrolled. VASJ is suddenly the fastest-growing private school in Ohio, with a total of 420 students. This is happening in a city that has lost about 20 percent of its population in the past few decades, and on a side of town that has one of the highest poverty rates in the country.

What caused the turnaround? While we walk outside the gym – over by the football practice field that abuts Lake Erie – Osborne explains the unusual marketing strategy that upped enrollment so dramatically: turning down applicants. That’s not a misprint. The school started getting more students when it started turning away more.

“We decided that if we are going to serve our students, those students and their families had to buy into what we were doing,” Osborne says. “If you do not accept what we expect, and do not appreciate what it is we are doing in terms of education, well, it is not going to be a good marriage.” About one-third of their applicants don’t make the cut.

“The idea that this school or any school is place where you drop off your problems, forget it,” he continues. “That doesn’t mean we are selective to such an extreme that a kid who may have struggled academically is not going to be able to thrive here. But we have to see the potential.”

VASJ realized they had to improve their product to keep it alive, and one way to do that was to restrict who can purchase it. Marketing geniuses often tell you that approach is dicey; marketing exclusivity is great when a business is growing (because a business can limit the product and raise the price), but real risky when a business is spiraling downward. In this case, VASJ was taking a huge risk, because if their enrollment dropped by even 50 or so more they would probably have had to close.

Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School

Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School – Photo Bob Perkoski

But the enrollment chart line is now spiking upward. Plus, the 20,000 or so alumni from both schools have noticed. Donations are up too, including a $250,000 gift to refurbish the Purple Palace, which will soon have new stands and lighting and, eventually, better restrooms and concession stands.

“This school is much better than it was when I went here,” Osborne says. “Having boys and girls together makes them learn about each other and respect each other. The school is half men and women, and half black and white. And we are proud of those numbers, because we are trying to be more like the real world than some isolated institution that doesn’t prepare its kids for how things are in the world out there.”

It is even better than “the world” when it comes to race and gender: VASJ is one of the most integrated schools in the country, and it focuses on gender equality, not just male sports prowess.

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Tim Misny, St. Joseph High School graduate, class of 1973, is mostly known as that lawyer who pops up on the TV all over the country and tells viewers that if you hire him, I’ll Make Them Pay!®.” He lives in a mansion he calls “Misnyland, ” on 55-acres in tony Waite Hill.

Misny was one of those alumni who wasn’t too involved in the school prior to Osborne’s appointment as president about three years ago (Osborne served as board president prior to that). “I can’t speak for the other alumni, but I get approached all the time to work on political campaigns and fundraisers, and you’re always just too busy, with work and family and kids,” Misny said. “But Osborne was infectious in how he told me that the school was going to emphasize what we have always been. That is, a school with middle-class kids who don’t come from rich families and who have to work hard to make it.”

Tim Misny, alumnus, and President Richard Osborne at Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School

Tim Misny, alumnus, and President Richard Osborne at Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School – Photo Bob Perkoski

“The kids there now are just like I was, and race doesn’t matter,” Misny says. He tells of his middle-class upbringing in Euclid, sharing the attic bedroom with his brother, and working cleaning toilets and emptying trash barrels at a local golf courses in order to pay his way through St. Joe’s. “When I go in there and walk those halls,” he says, “I see kids who were just like me. These boys and girls know that this is their ticket to a better life, and they work hard at it. It’s really great to see.”

The two schools have always had a mix of rich and middle-class though their history. Villa Angela Academy was founded in the mid-1870s, as a boarding school for girls on the eastern edge of the city (about ten miles from downtown) on property they had purchased on Lake Erie at the mouth of Euclid Creek. St. Joseph High School was opened in 1950 a few miles east (and also on the lake) of Villa Angela as the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland saw the Catholic population moving to suburbs like Euclid and into Lake County.

Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School

Tim Misny, alumnus, Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School – Photo Bob Perkoski

Click here to read the full article.

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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The late, great Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired, motivated, and affected countless people’s lives, both when he was on this Earth and now through his writings.

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The connection that Dr. King has and will have with people is unique for each individual.
Dr. King’s quote, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘what are you doing for others?’” has motivated me in my life.

I realize that those injury victims in our home town would have little or no chance at justice without Dr. King. When I take on a case, my client’s problems become my problems.

This philosophy motivates me to work as hard as I possibly can, and spend significant amounts of money to ensure that not only my client and their family receive fair compensation, but moreover that the injury that befell my client will never happen to anyone ever again.

When I was 8 years old, my maternal grandmother Veronica Vulich suggested to me that I become a lawyer because there will always be people who will need me. Those words resonate in my mind all of the time.

On this day, we recognize the work that Dr. King did as a leader in the Civil Rights Movement and the ultimate price that he paid for furthering his beliefs. I humbly submit the best way to honor this man is to study his teachings and incorporate into our own personal life, the principles that will make you a better person.

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Recap of the 2013 MADD Northeastern Ohio Training Series

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During my 32 years representing the injured victim, the number of my clients who have been made victims of drunk driving is sadly, but undeniably, on the rise.

That’s why the work of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)  has become the centerpiece of the solution. MADD is leading the crusade to attack this growing epidemic from all directions.Tougher criminal sanctions such as incarceration, driver license suspension, higher insurance premiums, court calls and penalties are not sufficient deterrents.

Tim and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine at the 2013 MADD training seminar in Richfield, OH.

Tim and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine at the 2013 MADD training seminar in Richfield, OH.

Not only does MADD support tougher legislation and offer compassionate counseling for the victims, they also provide education for today’s youth and law enforcement.

To assist MADD in the training of local police officers and first responders, I sponsored a death notification training series this spring for Northeastern Ohio. Unfortunately, most departments do not have an established protocol on how to inform a family that one of their loved ones has died.

To fill that void, Julie Leggett, executive director for the Northeastern Ohio MADD affiliate office, and I instituted a series of four tailor-made symposiums for over 800 law enforcement departments throughout Lake, Cuyahoga, Lorain and Geauga counties. The symposiums concluded just last week.

Tim Misny with Northeastern Ohio officersAt these day-long seminars, officers benefited from expert speakers. The intent was that these individual officers would go back to their respective agencies and share what they have learned with their comrades in arms.

“This is just one of many things we are doing to turn the tide on driving while drunk,” said Julie Leggett. “The response of the officers has been fantastic. It has opened their eyes and given them sound procedures to rely on when they are called upon to inform a family that one of their loved ones has been killed.”

Understanding the needs of bereaved individuals and appreciating the complexities of the role of a notifier can be overwhelming. These seminars, I’m happy to say, have dealt with this head on.

Tim Misny at MADD training in Northeastern OhioAs part and parcel of the training, I lectured on several related legal issues. The exchange that I had with the participants has been nothing short of stimulating.

I highly recommend that you get involved with MADD, whether through donation or calling Julie to see how you can participate.

Donating is as easy as texting. Just text “MADD” to 90999 to make an automatic $10 donation to MADD. The charge will just be included on your wireless bill. You can also donate at the MADD website, http://www.madd.org/local-offices/oh/northeastern/. If you want to get involved with our local MADD activities, call at the Northeastern Ohio office, 216-265-9229.

Of course, the easiest and best way to get involved with MADD is simply to support their battle for a better future by being safe and being sensible on the roads.

And that’s something we can all do.

Thoughts on Browns Owner and Pilot Flying J Ceo Jimmy Haslam’s FBI and IRS Investigation

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I’m still processing the news that Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s multi-billion dollar business, Pilot Flying J, was raided Monday by FBI and IRS agents who were searching for evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Just when I thought that we had turned the corner and finally had an owner who was not only an astute business man, but moreover, an engaged leader, we find that an “ongoing investigation” by the FBI and IRS will be a black cloud over our cherished franchise for months to come.

What seemed to be a promising rebirth for our franchise may become nothing but another punch line. Can you image the national political cartoons? Depictions of prison bars superimposed over the owner’s louge?

I remember as a little boy my dad took me to Hiram College to watch the Cleveland Browns practice. I stood in awe as the great Jim Brown trotted onto the practice field. He was my first real life hero.

Since the glory days of the Jim Brown era, we have endured countless bad draft choices, lousy coaches, “The Fumble,” “The Drive,” “The Interception,” and one losing season after another.

This new situation is not going to go away quickly or easily. Jimmy Haslam is meeting around the clock with his criminal lawyers and public relations team at a time when he should be huddling with coaches and scouts in preparation of the 2013 NFL draft on April 25.

I realize that Haslam is innocent until proven guilty. However, I can’t help but consider the consequences if he is found guilty. The upheaval of the team’s ownership would be disruptive to say the least.

I don’t believe the NFL has ever encountered a similar set of circumstances, and quite frankly I’m surprised the NFL was unaware of this potential problem when they approved the Browns’ sale last summer for more than $1 billion to the man from Tennessee.

Suffice it to say that Haslam was dead wrong when he thought things couldn’t get worse than a 5-11 season.

Sports fans, what do you think?

 

 

John Carroll University’s Hillel Holds Holocaust Remembrance Day Event

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The question “Am I my brother’s keeper?” was first posed in the book of Genesis by Cain after God asked where his brother Abel was, whom Cain had killed.

Throughout time, that question remains at the cornerstone of our moral obligation to people who are less fortunate and/or vict  ims of oppression and/or injury.John Carroll University - Holocaust Remembrance Day Event: Candle Lighting

Yesterday, I had the profound experience of participating at John Carroll University’s first Holocaust Remembrance Day service.

This memorial ceremony was led by David Markovich, the founding president of Hillel at John Carroll, a Jewish student group. I was one of six individuals whom David invited to read a story of a Holocaust victim and light a candle in their memory.

The story I told to an audience of John Carroll University faculty, administrators, students and community members in the Dolan Science Center had to do with a four-year-old Dutch boy named Abraham Beem. In 1941, when the Nazis took control of the Netherlands, the persecution and murder of Jewish citizens escalated.John Carroll University - Holocaust Remembrance Day Event: Tim Misny Speech

To escape certain death, Abraham’s parents sent him to a rural countryside village where the young boy lived as a member of a Christian family and took the name Jan de Witt. The German SS was relentless, and in 1942 discovered Abraham’s true identity. He and his sister Eva were sent to Auschwitz where they were immediately murdered.

This was one of six stories that were told at the Holocaust Remembrance Day service at John Carroll University, and these six stories represented six million stories of those who were killed in the Holocaust.

“This event is very dear to me because my family hails from the former Soviet Union and I come from a long line of Holocaust survivors,” David Markovich said. “I was very close with my grandfather who passed away six months ago, so I look at this as something in honor of my grandfather. It’s very important for the John Carroll community and for me personally.”John Carroll University - Holocaust Remembrance Day Event: Tim Misny and David Markovich

While the horrors of the Holocaust remain an isolated historical event in some people’s minds, yesterday’s Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony drove home the answer to the question “Are we our brothers’ keepers?”

The answer is absolutely we are. We all have a moral obligation to not only be aware of our current events, but moreover we must act upon them. Whether that means petitioning our elected officials to do the right thing or personally take action in contributing financial support, protesting against injustices, and defending victims of oppression.

Tim Misny to Sponsor MADD Death Notification Training: Getting Legal 106

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This week on Getting Legal, I am talking once again with Julie Leggett, the executive director of the northeastern affiliate office of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). We have both been waiting eagerly for today to come, as it is the first session of the 2013 MADD Death Notification Training Seminar Series in Northeastern Ohio.

This series will allow officers from over 800 agencies, spanning four counties, to receive education on techniques for notifying individuals about the passing of a loved one. As a former police prosecutor, attorney for the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, and 32-year personal injury lawyer, I know first-hand how devastating this type of news can be.

Everyday police officers put their lives on the line to do this difficult work. By sponsoring this training series, I hope to help officers and first responders approach one of the most daunting aspects of the job, and consequently, help family members cope with what will be one of the hardest experiences they will ever face.

Click here to learn more about MADD and the 2013 Death Notification Training Seminar Series in Northeastern Ohio.

Getting Legal airs on CBS 19 every Friday morning at 7:55 a.m.

The Tip of the Iceberg: Social Media Brings Guilty Verdict in Steubenville Rape Case

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Texting in Steubenville rape caseThis past weekend, a Jefferson County judge found Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, delinquent beyond a reasonable doubt of rape and distribution of a nude image of a minor.

The sensational circumstances surrounding the two Steubenville high-profile football players, and the accompanying social media frenzy, drew international attention to the Ohio Valley town.

During a night of partying in August, the boys and the victim, a 16-year-old Weirton, West Virginian girl, were drinking. Testimony indicated that the assault occurred while the girl was drunk and subsequently passed out.

During the trial, the most damaging evidence for the defense came in the form of text messages recovered from cell phones belonging to the accused, the victim, a witness, and friends and acquaintances of those parties.

The most appalling piece of evidence was a photo of the two boys dragging the unconscious victim by her arms and legs.

Joann Gibb, who works for the Ohio state lab, retrieved hundreds of text messages from the 17 phones seized during the investigation. During her four hours of testimony, she read graphic and often expletive-laced text messages that went back and forth like a pinball between the Steubenville-area teens following this hideous event.

While the defendants admitted they knew they had committed a crime, the most shocking text came from the 17-year-old Mays to a friend wherein he said, “I got Reno. He took care of it and sh– ain’t gonna happen, even if they take it to court.”

This young man was referring, of course, to Reno Saccoccia, the head coach of the Steubenville powerhouse football team.

Enter Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Moments after the courtroom cleared on Sunday, DeWine announced that a grand jury would be convened on April 15 to investigate whether more charges would be filed against others. He said that his office will use information gathered by more than 15 state investigative agents who have already interviewed 56 people, including the high school principle, district superintendant and 27 other football coaches. Sixteen people refused to cooperate.

Because the defendants, Mays and Richmond, are juveniles, Judge Tom Lipps was limited to sentencing the boys to the Ohio Department of Youth Services for two years and one year, respectively.”

Special Prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter said, “They showed absolutely no regard for what happened to the victim.

The crimes committed on that August evening are in and of themselves horrific, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. In the ensuing weeks and months, we will learn that coaches, parents, administrators, and family friends circled the wagons to protect these star players and their esteemed football program at the expense of pursuing justice for a 16-year-old girl.

They repeatedly failed to do the right thing, a reality we have seen time and time again in juvenile rape cases involving groups and institutions such as the Catholic Church and Penn State university.

Hopefully, Attorney General Mike DeWine’s investigation and subsequent criminal prosecution will show that in the age of social media everything we do and say is transparent, and the days of a good ol’ fashioned cover-up are long gone.

Special Guest from MADD on St. Patrick’s Day Safety: Getting Legal 105

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This week on Getting Legal, I welcomed Julie Leggett, executive director of the northeastern affiliate office of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Julie and I were able to discuss not only what her invaluable organization does, but also to remind our viewers to be safe and responsible on St. Patrick’s Day this weekend, especially those going to the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Cleveland.

MADD serves our community by providing victim services, campaigning for tougher drinking and driving laws, and educating our community about this national issue. Theirs is a cause I feel strongly about, and I encourage everyone to rally in this fight for a safer future.

Getting Legal airs on CBS 19 every Friday morning at 7:55 a.m.

Zack Reed Arrest and St. Patrick’s Day Parade Remind Cleveland Not to Drink and Drive

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This week on Getting Legal with Tim Misny CBS 19 at 7:55am, we’re discussing the hot topic issue of drinking and driving.

This issue is front and center for Cleveland residents for two reasons.  Not only is St. Patrick’s Day around the around the corner, but also because of the recent arrest of Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed for suspicion of driving while under the influence.

Zack Reed had DUI convictions in 2005 and 2007. This past Wednesday, he pOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAleaded not guilty in response to his third DUI arrest.

I know Zack Reed personally. As a councilman, his work in providing local services to those in need is unparalleled.

It’s easy to jump on the media bandwagon and pass judgment, but we must keep in mind that Zack Reed is, indeed, innocent until proven guilty. However, even if the facts surrounding the 2:00 am Tuesday morning arrest are taken in the best light possible for the councilman, it ain’t good.

According to the arresting officers, Reed displayed obvious traits of drunkenness, not to mention his failure of the roadside sobriety test.

Julie Leggett, the Executive Director of the Northeastern Ohio Affiliate of Mothers against Drunk Driving, weighed in on Reed’s three DUI encounters by saying, “That’s three potential times that someone could have lost their life.”

When we put a spotlight on the drinking and driving problem in our society, the illuminated statistics are shocking, if not numbing.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 9,878 people died in drunk driving crashes in 2011. This translates into one death every 53 minutes. The Center for Disease Control determined that the average drunk driver has driven under the influence 80 times before his or her first arrest. And possibly the most foreboding mention is that one in three people will be involved in an alcohol related crash in their lifetime.

Unfortunately, the Zack Reed scenario is not the only case of DUI recidivism in the Buckeye State. Last year alone there were 147,000 three-time offenders and 33,000 five-time offenders.

Our legislature has enacted stiff penalties in terms of fines, incarceration, and drivers’ license suspension, but their efforts have proven to be ineffective deterrents.

As a former prosecutor, I have represented the state against hundreds of drunk drivers, and as a plaintiff personal injury lawyer, I have helped many victims of drunk driving and their families. I can tell you from first-hand experience that all the tough laws in the world won’t make a bit of difference.

My suggestion is that first offenders, in addition to spending a weekend at a cushy hotel watch videos on the horrors of drunk driving, should have to spend a week with a victim of a drunk driving accident or someone whose life has been turned upside down by drunk driving.

The devastation left in the wake of accident caused by a drunk driver is often times beyond devastating and, in fact, incomprehensible. I have represented families that were destroyed by drunk drivers and the toughest fact for the family to deal with is that the drunk driver has gotten on with their life and walked away unscathed.

These concerns are timely in light of this Sunday’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration. While the bars will be filled with people dressed in green excessively consuming libations, I know that they would think twice about getting behind the wheel if they had ever spent five minutes with a victim of drunk driving or someone whose life has been turned upside down by drunk driving.

 

Click here to learn more about my involvement with MADD and the 2013 Spring Death Notification Training Seminar Series.

 

 

 

 

It Starts with One: A Reflection on Black History Month

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Every Black History Month, the media presents countless stories of the great and inspiring achievements of African-Americans.

The stories range from the traditional hallmarks of black history including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Harriet Tubman to local Cleveland icons such as former NAACP President George Forbes and the Stokes brothers, Carl and Louis.

But the most compelling story, for me, involves a 14-year-old boy named Emmett Till. This young man, who went by the nickname Bobo, lived on Chicago’s South Side in a middle class black neighborhood with his single mother, Mamie Bradley.

In the summer of 1955, Emmett visited relatives in Money, Mississippi. On August 24 of that year, he reportedly flirted with a white grocery store cashier. Four days later, Roy Bryant, the cashier’s husband and grocery store owner, along with his half-brother, J.W. Milam, kidnapped Emmett from his uncle’s home. He was then taken to the bank of the Tallahatchie River where they beat him, shot him in the head, and disposed of his body into the river.

Three days later, Emmett’s corpse was recovered. His face was unrecognizable due to the mutilation and the effects of exposure to the water. He was identified only by his late father’s signet ring on his finger, which Mamie gave him before he traveled to Mississippi.

Emmett’s mother chose to have an open-casket funeral and to leave her son’s body in Roberts’ Temple Church of God on display for 5 days.

Her motive, she said, was to “Let the world see what had happened because there is no way I could describe this.”

Images from Emmett’s funeral later became iconic, spurring numerous books and documents and even a ballad by the great Bob Dylan.

Soon the nation’s attention turned to Money, Emmett Till Murder Front Page NewspaperMississippi to watch Emmett’s murder trial unfold. Despite his uncle’s courageous testimony, identifying Bryant and Milam as Emmett’s murders, the all-white, all-male jury acquitted both men of all charges after only 67 minutes of deliberation.

A few months later, Bryant and Milam sold their confessions of the murder and details to Look Magazine for $4,000. Double jeopardy laws prevented them from ever being convicted again after their acquittal.

The cold-blooded murder of this innocent young man, coupled with the perversion of the criminal justice system, galvanized the nation to demand change in the form of civil rights legislation.

One hundred days after Emmett’s death, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on an Alabama city bus. Her actions set forth the year-long Montgomery bus boycott.

Parks would later say, “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear.  Knowing what must be done does away with fear.”Rosa Parks - Civil Rights Activist

For so many of my clients, knowing “what must be done” has given them the courage to bring claims. All of the many class action lawsuits I have handled started when one individual stood tall and said, “Something needs to be done.”

Henry David Thoreau, in Civil Disobedience, discusses our duty to recognize the wrongs of our society and take action to eradicate them.

In our modern society, those acts of civil disobedience result in lawsuits against those corporate entities that expose us to unnecessary harm and danger.

The story of Emmett Till and the legacy of the black civil rights movement inspire me and my clients to keep “fighting the good fight.”

Because, as Abraham Lincoln said, “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.”

And, we will protest.