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Benchmark Assessment 2 - English I
Today you will analyze two excerpts from a pieces of informational text written by Chris Crowe, Mississippi Trial, 1955, and Getting Away with Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case. As you read these texts, you will analyze how Crowe addresses similar topics in different pieces of writing.

from Mississippi Trial, 1955 by Chris Crowe

1 - Grampa was awake when I came back into the house. “Naomi again?”

“Nosir, it was a deputy. He brought me this.” I handed the envelope to Grampa; he opened it and read the subpoena. When he finished, he didn’t say anything for a while.

Finally, he said, “I don’t like this son, not one bit. It’s one thing for you to talk to George
5 - Smith about what R.C.’s done and said, but testifying in court… you’re just a boy, and
this business is too dirty for you to be getting mixed up in.”

“Do I have a choice?”

“Of course you have a choice. Last I checked, we’re still living in the United States of America, regardless of what the NAACP and those outside agitators say. If I was you,
10 - Hiram, I’d keep my mouth shut about this whole thing. It’s going to be ugly, maybe even
dangerous. Northern rabble-rousers will be there, and some of our local rednecks aren’t going to take too kindly to that. And didn’t you say that R.C. had threatened you?”

“Not exactly threatened, but I sure felt warned; he doesn’t want me talking to Sheriff Smith about what he did to Emmett while we were fishing.”

15 - “That boy’s dangerous. You ought to lay low, keep quiet, and let things work themselves
out; no need for you to risk getting hurt. The judge can make you appear in court, but you don’t have to tell everything you know, especially when testifying might put you in serious danger.”

I nodded. R.C. scared me, for sure, but shouldn’t I tell the truth, even if I was afraid?...

20 - “If you talk in court, Hiram, you’re going to stir up R.C. pretty good. There’s no way you
can keep it secret. Trials are public, and whatever gets said is going to show up in the Commonwealth, so even if old R.C. has enough sense to steer clear of the Sumner courthouse, he’s going to hear that you spoke against him in court.”

Thinking about R.C. made me shiver. “I know I’d be crazy to tell everything at that trial;
25 - R.C. scares me to death. If I had my choice, I’d be on a train tonight headed back to
Tempe...but Emmett Till is dead, Grampa, for no good reason. He had as much right to be here in Leflore County as I do. He was just a kid, a kid like me -”

“Hold on, son. He was a colored boy who didn’t know his place.”

“That doesn’t give R.C. and those other two men the right to murder him.”

30 - Grampa’s face turned serious. “You don’t know for sure who did the killing, Hiram, and
you’ve got to remember that Chicago boy made his own trouble. If he’d stayed in his place, he’d be alive today, and believe me, son, I truly wish none of this had happened.” Grampa looked exhausted. “Not a single bit of it.”

“But it did happen, and that boy is dead, and we both know that R.C. Rydell had
35 - something to do with it. Sure he scares me, but don’t I owe Emmett something? Isn’t it
my duty to do something about it?”

“You don’t owe that boy a damn thing. For starters, he’s dead. All the talking in the world isn’t going to change that. And you’re in the Delta, son. No jury down here would even dream of punishing white boys for putting a Negro in his place. Sure, they got carried
40 - away something awful, but they’re local men, white men. The only thing you’ll do by
speaking up is to get yourself hurt, maybe hurt bad.”

Grampa sounded so wrongheaded, I couldn’t believe it. Maybe some of what Dad was always spouting about equality and the American dream had rubbed off on me. “Don’t American laws apply in the Delta? What R.C. and those two men did was wrong,
45 - Grampa. It makes me sick just to think about it.”

“Because you’re a decent young man. You come from good stock, Hiram.”

“If I’m so decent, shouldn’t I tell what I know about R.C.? He killed a boy, Grampa, and I could’ve stopped him.”

“Now, Hiram, you already did more than you had to, calling the sheriff and everything, Not 50 - many boys your age would’ve had the courage to -”

“But I should have done more. Maybe I could’ve stopped R.C. that night, made him stay here. Maybe if I had followed him…”

Grampa waved his hand impatiently. “You’re forgetting that two grown men are already in jail for the crime, and they’re admitted to kidnapping the boy. They would have done what
55 - they did whether or not R.C. was there - and you don’t know for sure that he was there,
Hiram.”

“But he told me he was going to Money with a couple of men and that they were going to teach a Northern Negro a lesson. Emmett disappeared the next night.”

“Just because he planned to go up there doesn’t mean he ever did. Look at what you’re
60 - saying, son. You’ve already convicted R.C. for a crime you can’t be sure he committed.
How are you going to look in court? Are you willing to accuse a boy everybody knows is a big talker of kidnapping and murder based on a conversation you had with him one night?”

“Grampa, I know R.C. and what he can do. I’ve seen what he’s done before.”

65 - “So what? Do you have proof that he went to Mose Wright’s house that night? That he
was with Bryant and Milam? That he helped them kill that boy? You got any proof of that?”

“But he said -”

“Don’t matter what he said, Hiram, the court’s interested in what he did, in what can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Do you really think that a jury made up of white Delta
70 - men is going to take your word over that of a local boy? Like I said, if you tell everything in
that trial, the only thing you’re going to do is get yourself hurt and embarrass me.”

“Embarrass you?”

“People around here have long memories, son. They remember how your daddy was, how I couldn’t talk or whip any sense into him when he got to be your age. You have no
75 - idea how humiliating it is when a boy shames his family! Friends and neighbors said they
understood, that they felt sorry about how Harlan and I battled, but I know that behind my back they talked about how I was a poor father, that if I had raised Harlan right, he wouldn’t have shamed me. You get in court and talk against white folks, Hiram, and people around here’ll see your daddy in you. Contrary, that’s what he was. Didn’t like the
80 - South, the Southern ways. The Delta wasn’t good enough for him. I don’t think I could
take it again. That public condemnation. Friends gossiping. Feeling shame because of what my boy did and said. I raised you different, Hiram. You are not like your father. You’re a Delta boy, through and through.”

Grampa patted my arm. “You’re a good boy, son, and I’ve been proud of you. I know
85 - you’ll do the right thing.”

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Key Ideas and Details (9.RL.1,2,3,10)
This section of the exam focuses on the student’s ability to understand, recognize and use key ideas and details from a work of fiction. This section consists of basic, standard, and expanded question types.
What advice does Grampa give Hiram about testifying in court? (9.RL.1, basic)
Which statement best describes the main idea of the passage? (9.RL.2, basic)
In lines 8-12 of the excerpt from Mississippi Trial, 1955 it states, “Of course you have a choice. Last I checked, we’re still living in the United States of America, regardless of what the NAACP and those outside agitators say. If I was you. Hiram, I’d keep my mouth shut about this whole thing. It’s going to be ugly, maybe even dangerous. Northern rabble-rousers will be there, and some of our local rednecks aren’t going to take too kindly to that.” What do the words “agitators” and “rabble-rousers” indicate about Grampa’s opinion of the NAACP? (9.RL.2, standard)
What is the underlying theme of the passage? (9.RL.2, standard)
Which of the following words best describes Grampa’s relationship with Hiram’s fatherwhen Hiram’s father was a teenager? (9.RL.3, standard).
In lines 84-85 of the excerpt it states, ““You’re a good boy, son, and I’ve been proud of you. I know you’ll do the right thing.” Based on evidence provided earlier in the passage, what does Grampa clearly believe “the right thing to do” is? (9.RL.3, standard)
In lines 78-81 of the excerpt, Grampa states, “You get in court and talk against white folks, Hiram, and people around here’ll see your daddy in you. Contrary, that’s what he was. Didn’t like the South, the Southern ways. The Delta wasn’t good enough for him. I don’t think I could take it again.” What does this quote suggest about Grampa? (9.RL.3, standard)
Which of the following uses of this passage would be the most effective? (9.RL.2, expanded)
Craft and Structure (9.RL. 4, 5, 10)
This section of the exam focuses on the student’s ability to recognize various writing techniques in a passage and expand on the overall significance of a passage’s structure and style. This sections consists of basic, standard, and expanded question types.
As it is used in line 79 of the passage, what is the meaning of the word contrary? (9.RL.4, basic).
What genre does this passage best fit in to? (9. RL.5, basic)
In lines 39-41 Grampa states, “Sure, they got carried away something awful, but they’re local men, white men. The only thing you’ll do by speaking up is to get yourself hurt, maybe hurt bad.” What does this statement indicate about the likely outcome of the trial? (9.RL.4, standard)
Throughout the passage, Grampa makes reference to Emmett Till’s “place.” Of what is Grampa attempting to convince Hiram by emphasizing this point? (9.RL.5, standard)
Structurally speaking, which type of essay does the passage most clearly resemble? (9.RL.5,standard)
Which of the following groups of words represent the key factors that will most likely determine the outcome of the trial? (9.RL.4, standard)
In lines 24 through 27 Hiram states, ““I know I’d be crazy to tell everything at that trial; R.C. scares me to death. If I had my choice, I’d be on a train tonight headed back to Tempe...but Emmett Till is dead, Grampa, for no good reason. He had as much right to be here in Leflore County as I do. He was just a kid, a kid like me -” Which portion of this quote reveals the most information about Hiram’s character? (9.RL.5, expanded)
Which of the following quotes best illustrates the main difference between Hiram and his grandfather? (9.RL.5, expanded)
Integration of Ideas (9.RL. 7, 9, 10)
This section of the exam focuses on the student’s ability to analyze the passage in relationship to other materials and ideas. This section consists of basic, standard, and expanded question types.
Which of the following memes is the most applicable to the excerpt from Mississippi Trial, 1955? (9.RL.7, standard)
Image A
Image B
Image C
Image D
The facial expression of the white woman standing directly to the right of the African-American male in this photograph (taken during the American Civil Rights Movement) might best be described by which of the following words? (9.RL.7, basic)
from Getting Away with Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case by Chris Crow
1 - A handsome teenager, stout at 160 pounds and slightly shorter than many of his
classmates, Emmett Till graduated from McCosh and looked forward to a summer of fun; he and his mother had planned a trip to Omaha to visit family; Minnie Minoso and the White Sox were playing well; and he had all of June, July, and August before he‘d have to
5 - back to school. But Emmett’s trip to Omaha got canceled when his great-uncle from
Mississippi, Mose Wright, came to Chicago with two of his grandsons. “Emmett heard that Uncle Mose was in town,” recalls Emmett’s mother, “and two of the boys that he grew up with. They were going back to Mississippi. That’s what [Emmett] wanted to do. It messed up our plans completely. After a lot of pressure, my mother and I decided it
10 - would be all right to let Emmett go to Mississippi.”

Emmett’s mother worried about her son traveling to Mississippi, but her uncle assured her that conditions in the South had improved and that Emmett would be safe. Wright had, after all, cleared $250 that year for his sharecropping work, and for the first time he owed nothing to the plantation owner. Life in Mississippi had never been better, Wright
15 - said, and he know that Emmett would enjoy spending time with his cousins down on the
farm. Still, Emmett’s mother worried that her son wouldn’t know how to treat white people in the Jim Crow South and warned him before he left for Chicago: “If you have to get on your knees and bow when a white person goes past, do it willingly.” As a former resident of Mississippi, she knew the penalty that could come with violating a Jim Crow
20 - law...

Emmett Till knew nothing of the dangerous and tense climate in Mississippi that he and his cousin would enter on August 21, 1955. To make matters worse, as a boy raised in Chicago, he didn’t understand anything about the racial attitudes of white Mississippians or the policies and taboos established by Jim Crowe laws. Emmett’s mother, born and
25 - raised in Mississippi, tried her best to prepare him for what he would encounter in her
home state.

“Emmett was born and raised in Chicago, so he didn’t know how to be humble to white
people. I warned him before he came down here; I told him to be very careful how he spoke and to say ‘yes sir’ and ‘no ma’am’ and not to hesitate to humble himself if he had
30 - to get down on his knees...I was trying to really pound it into him that Mississippi was not
Chicago...I explained to Emmett that if he met a white woman, he should step off the street, lower his head, and not look up. And he thought that was the silliest thing he’d ever heard.”

Sadly, Emmett Till’s lack of experience with Southern customs, his unwillingness to
35 - follow his mother’s advice, and the brashness and sense of invincibility that many
fourteen-year-old boys possess led him to violate one of the South’s most fiercely protected taboos at a time when racial tensions were primed to explode.

His cocky and naive indiscretion in Money, Mississippi, on the night of August 24,1955, inflamed the hatred of two local white men, men who believed every work of Tom P.
40 - Brady’s Black Monday and all the other racist rhetoric that had circulated in Mississippi
since the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision. They’d been waiting for trouble, for a “glib young negro” from Chicago or New York to step out of line. When he did, they made sure to make an example out of him. An example that no one would ever forget.

Which statement summarizes a key difference between the excerpt from Mississippi Trial, 1955 and the excerpt from Getting Away with Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case, both by Chris Crowe. (9.RL.9, standard)
Select one of the following quotations from Mississippi Trial, 1955 to support your answer to question 19. (R.L. 9, expanded)
Select one of the following quotations from Getting Away with Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case to support your answer to question 19. (R.L. 9, expanded)
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