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Hiram is the main character and narrator of Mississippi Trial, 1955. He is visiting his family in Mississippi when he meets Emmett Till, a black boy around his age who is also there for the same reason. When Emmett's brutally beaten body is found in a lake, Hiram is horrified and takes it upon himself to find out the course of events that led to his death.
Emmett is the murder victim of the case, a famous historical figure in real life whose death was one of the factors that sparked the widespread civil rights movement in America. A black teenager and the victim of a racist hate crime, his body was found brutally tortured and disfigured floating in a lake. The events of Mississippi Trial, 1955 center around his death and the undeniable racist and violent ideals that led to it.
Roy Bryant is one of the accused on trial for murdering Emmett. The owner of a small store in Mississippi, he denied acting out on Emmett based on racist ideals; he said that Emmett cursed and said profane things to his wife, and therefore he kidnapped him.
Mrs. Bryant also accused Emmett of rude remarks during the murder trial. She also goes further to say that Emmett was on the verge of sexually assaulting her, grabbing her body inappropriately in her husband's store. Throughout the trial, Mrs. Bryant clearly demonstrates her biased, prejudiced beliefs about the inherent danger and "dirtiness" of black people.
Gerald Chatham is the state attorney assigned to Emmett's murder trial. A fair and morally upstanding man, he pleads the jury to look past their prejudices and decide the fate of the potential murderers with good judgement. He also attempts to help Emmett's mother and family cope with the trauma of the murder.
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