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Emmett Till and the Mississippi Press [Hardcover]

by Davis W. Houck, Matthew A. Grindy, Keith A. Beauchamp
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 4, 2008 1934110159 978-1934110157

Employing never-before-used historical materials, the au-thors of Emmett Till and the Mississippi Press reveal how Mississippi journalists both expressed and shaped public opinion in the aftermath of the 1955 Emmett Till murder. Combing small-circulation weeklies as well as large-circulation dailies, Davis W. Houck and Matthew A. Grindy analyze the rhetoric at work as the state attempted to grapple with a brutal, small-town slaying. Initially coverage tended to be sympathetic to Till, but when the case became a clarion call for civil rights and racial justice in Mississippi, journa-lists reacted.

Newspapers both reported on the Till investigation and editor-ialized on its protagonists. Within days the Till case transcended the specifics of a murder in the Delta. Coverage wrestled with such com-plex cultural matters as the role of the press, class, gender, and geography in the determination of guilt and innocence.

Emmett Till and the Mississippi Press provides a careful examination of the courtroom testimony given in Sumner, Mississippi, and the trial\'s conclusion as reported by the state\'s newspapers. The book closes with an analysis of how Mississippi has attempted to come to terms with its racially troubled past by, in part, memorializing Emmett Till in and around the Delta.

Editorial Reviews


Emmett Till and the Mississippi Press is a brilliant, riveting book. Davis Houck and Matthew Grindy cast new light on the mythic tale of a terrible murder that shook America and still reverberates in our consciousness today. Beyond their powerful story, the authors provocatively reveal how reporters, editors, historians, and politicians constantly reshape public memory of the critical events of our history. Every academic or citizen interested in having a better understanding of our civil rights history and how we must come to terms with historical truth should read this important book. --Nick Kotz, author of Judgment Days: Lyndon Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Laws that Changed America

The murder in Mississippi of a wolf-whistling Chicago teenager, at the hands of white supremacists, continues to resonate. Emmett Till and the Mississippi Press shows why. Thanks to its prodigious research and tart observations, this book amplifies our knowledge of a vicious crime and an unjust acquittal, and also illuminates the political and journalistic atmosphere that proved so rancid that it could not be sustained. --Stephen J. Whitfield, author of A Death in the Delta: The Story of Emmett Till

From the Publisher

This analysis of the media's reaction to the lynching of a young black man

---Creates one of the few books on the Till case to focus on newspaper accounts of the murder and its aftermath

---Offers a new reading of the defense's initial strategy of declaring "justifiable homicide"

---Examines carefully many documents, columns, reports, and other papers that have not been previously studied in-depth

---Gives a fresh perspective on a murder that helped spur the Civil Rights movement

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi (January 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934110159
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934110157
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,753,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars commendable scholarship October 30, 2010
The Emmett Till murder case is perhaps the most notorious and revealing narrative in the long American saga of "race," and it occurred only a few months before Rosa Parks was arrested on a bus in Montgomery, setting off the bus boycott that let the world know that the African American freedom struggle on the rise. This book is not a history of that event. Instead, it is a scholarly examination of the response of the press in Mississippi to the Till case. As such, it serves up a wide array of fascinating primary sources. For a student writing a paper on the Till case or a historian writing a book, this is a gold mine. The authors are to be congratulated for their patient and thorough contribution to scholarship.

And by the way, the review that calls this book apologetic for the Till murder is simply nonsense. This book really makes no argument about the Till murder. It makes some astute observations about the press coverage in Mississippi, which ranges from wildly white supremacist to defensive "moderate" observations to the complexities of an African American press that is not entirely safe and independent, yet has plenty to say. The authors, careful and thoughtful scholars, are no more tolerant of Till's murder than any sane, decent person in the country. There is a quiet moral strength in these pages, but the point of the effort is to advance a deeper historical understanding of the nation's foremost story of racial insanity, Mississippi injustice, and African American resolve to end it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT Book! October 2, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was very impressed with the book and the authors who researched and wrote it.
Great detail and timelines to follow as well.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pure Nonsense April 20, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book would be a joke, a farce, if did not deal with such a serious subject. The authors have clipped some newspaper articles and come to the conclusion that the supporters of Strider, Kimball, Bryant, the Milams and other murderous bigots are maligned innocents persued by an "outside" press and the NAACP that was hellbent on misrepresenting the really nice, peaceful, Christian, Jim Crow Mississippi.

These guys are apologists for a very ugly murder and the cruel and unacceptable court decision in Sumner, MS, 1955. The authors contend Till's kidnapping, beating, murder and mutilation was caused by the unanimous decision of the US Supreme Court to end school discrimination. And they contend the people of Mississippi had the right and duty to protect their racist society against this national consensus and any incursion by anyone who believed "all men are created equal."

Shame on these authors for this unscholarly and pathetic reconstruction.
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