He’d also become TV’s first “Angry Young Man” because of constant
battles with show sponsors and network censors. The conceptual
fisticuffs ranged from being forced to remove the line “Got a match?”
from REQUIUM (because the sponsor was Ronson Lighters) to deleting
political references, ethnic identities and even a mention of “the
Chrysler Building” in a show sponsored by Ford. The greatest conflict
was over A TOWN HAS TURNED TO DUST.
Emmitt Till - Christmas, 1954
Directed by John Frankenheimer (who years later reflected upon the experience
none too proudly), he and Serling had originally wanted to do a play
about the murder of Emmitt Till. Till was a 14 year old
African-American from Chicago who, while visiting family in Mississippi,
supposedly whistled at a white woman and was then beaten, had an eye
gouged out, was shot through the head and dumped in a river by two white men … who were eventually acquitted of the crime! The incident sparked national outrage and is cited as being one of the galvanizing catalysts which launched the Civil Rights Movement in earnest.