OGDEN -- At Two Rivers High School, students' eyes have been opened to the hardships faced during the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi, thanks to English teacher Cassie Cox.
And they will be opened even further in February when Simeon Wright, author of "Simeon's Story: An Eyewitness Account of the Kidnapping of Emmett Till," makes a visit.
Wright will speak at their school and to an audience at Weber State University on Feb. 5.
Cox said she developed her love of reading and history when she read the book "Mississippi Trial 1955" in her early college days. The book detailed the trial of Emmett Till, who was kidnapped, beaten and murdered for whistling at a white woman when he was 14 years old. When Cox became a teacher, she decided she needed to educate her students about the incident and the ensuing trial that let the killers go free.
Cox had always been interested in the story by Till's cousin, Simeon Wright, and found him on Facebook a couple of years ago.
She pestered him to come talk to her students. She heard nothing from him but continued to send him Facebook messages. Then one day, out of the blue, he called her at home. She was thrilled.
Cox again asked him to come and speak to her students. He said he would but would need travel money. Cox went to work with Forrest Crawford at Weber State University to raise the funds, and now her dream of meeting Wright and letting her students hear the story firsthand is about to become a reality.
Cox also discovered there was a traveling display detailing Till's life and trial through Delta State University in Mississippi. She got a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to have the display shipped to her school to help her students really grasp the story.
The display, made up of 10, 8-foot-tall banners, details Till's trial with photos, newspaper articles, essays and quotes that discuss exactly what happened. The display has been at Two Rivers High School, 955 W. 12th St. and is now at Weber State University's Shepherd Union Building until Feb. 5.
Skye Reynolds, a 17-year-old senior at Two Rivers was thrilled to soak in the details on the display. She heard Till's story last year in history class and has learned more about it this year in her English classes. She wrote an essay about Wright and will introduce him when he comes to speak at WSU.
"The story is devastating and inspiring. It shows how far we've come," she said as she recently admired the display in Cox's room.
"It shows the impact the smallest person can make," she added.
Reynolds can't hide her enthusiasm when she talks about being able to meet Wright.
"He is walking history," she said. "I know his story like the back of my hand."
She is impressed with what Wright is now doing for civil rights by sharing his story so freely with others.
Two Rivers senior Carson Volk is impressed that Wright is coming to his school to talk to students.
"It's crazy -- Simeon is coming to a school like this," Volk said.
Wright will address a large crowd at WSU's Browning Center at 7 p.m. Feb. 5 and will sign books beforehand at 6 p.m. The next day he will make a personal visit to the students at Two Rivers High School.
Students are also working, by reading an extra book about Till, to earn a spot to go to lunch with Wright after his address.
Volk said: "It's crazy to think people believed in that crap and the things they did that they thought were right."
Details of Simeon Wright's visit:
Wright will sign books from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 5 in the lobby of the Browning Center at Weber State University. Books can be preordered at Wisebird Bookery, 4850 S. Harrison Blvd., Ogden, for $11. They will be available for purchase that night for $14. Wright will address the public starting at 7 p.m. in the Austad Auditorium. The event is free to the public.