The event that launched the civil rights movement—the 1955 lynching of young Emmett Till—now reexamined by an award-winning author with access to never-before-heard accounts from those involved as well as recently recovered court transcripts from the trial.
In 1955, a fourteen-year-old black boy named Emmett Till, who had come down from Chicago to visit relatives in Mississippi, was murdered by a group of white men. He had gone into a small country store a few days earlier and made flirtatious remarks to a white woman, twenty-one-year-old Carolyn Bryant; Bryant’s husband and brother-in-law were two of Till’s attackers. They were never convicted, but Till’s lynching became one of the most notorious hate crimes in American history. It set off a wave of protests across the country, helped the NAACP gain thousands of members, and inspired famous activists like Rosa Parks to stand up and fight for equal rights for the first time.
Part detective story, part political history, Timothy Tyson’s The Blood of Emmett Till revises the history of the Till case, not only changing the specifics that we thought we knew, but showing how the murder ignited the modern civil rights movement. Tyson uses a wide range of new sources, including the only interview ever given by Carolyn Bryant; the transcript of the murder trial, missing since 1955 and only recovered in 2005; and a recent FBI report on the case. In a time where discussions of race are once again coming to the fore, The Blood of Emmett Till redefines a crucial moment in civil rights history.
About the Author
Timothy B. Tyson is Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, Visiting Professor of American Christianity and Southern Culture at Duke Divinity School, and adjunct professor of American Studies at the University of North Carolina. He is the author of The Blood of Emmett Till; Blood Done Sign My Name, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, winner of the Southern Book Award for Nonfiction and the Grawemeyer Award in Religion, among others; and Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power, winner of the James Rawley Prize for best book on race and the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize for best first book in US History from the Organization of American Historians. He serves on the executive board of the North Carolina NAACP.