About this item

The world knows the story of young Emmett Till. In August 1955, the fourteen-year-old Chicago boy supposedly flirted with a white woman named Carolyn Bryant, who worked behind the counter of a country store, while visiting family in Mississippi. Three days later, his mangled body was recovered in the Tallahatchie River, weighed down by a cotton-gin fan. Till's killers, Bryant's husband and his half-brother, were eventually acquitted on technicalities by an all-white jury despite overwhelming evidence. It seemed another case of Southern justice.

Then details of what had happened to Till became public, which they did in part because Emmett's mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, insisted that his casket remain open during his funeral. The world saw the horror, and Till's story gripped the country and sparked outrage. Black journalists drove down to Mississippi and risked their lives interviewing townsfolk, encouraging witnesses, spiriting those in danger out of the region, and above all keeping the news cycle turning. It continues to turn. In 2005, fifty years after the murder, the FBI reopened the case. New papers and testimony have come to light, and several participants, including Till's mother, have published autobiographies. Using this new evidence and a broadened historical context, Elliott J. Gorn delves more fully than anyone has into how and why the story of Emmett Till still resonates, and always will. Till's murder marked a turning point, Gorn shows, and yet also reveals how old patterns of thought and behavior endure, and why we must look hard at them.

About the Author

Elliott J. Gorn

Elliott J. Gorn (Ph. D. Yale University, 1983, A.B. University of California, Berkeley, 1973) is the Joseph Gagliano Professor of American Urban History and has a distinguished record of scholarship, publication and excellence in teaching and student mentorship. His books and articles embrace multiple aspects of urban and American culture, particularly the history of various social groups in American cities since 1800. Gorn's work is interdisciplinary and intersects with numerous other fields. His four major books examine various aspects of urban life and city cultures in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States, including (Oxford University Press, 2009) ; (Hill and Wang, 2001, Korean edition, 2003) ; , co-authored with Warren Goldstein (Hill and Wang, 1993; reissued University of Illinois Press, 2004) ; and (Cornell University Press, 1986; 2nd edition, 2010, with a new bibliography and afterword) .Gorn has edited eight volumes, including (University of Illinois Press, 2008) ; (Bedford Books, 1998) ; (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995) ; and , co-edited with Peter Williams and Mary Cayton (Scribners, 1993) , which was awarded the Dartmouth Certificate by the American Library Association. He has published and reprinted more than 50 articles, book chapters and reviews in a wide variety of scholarly journals, encyclopedias, edited collections and news magazines, including the American Historical Review, the Journal of American History, the Journal of American Studies, the Journal of Urban History, the Journal of Sport History, American Quarterly, the International Journal of Maritime History, Harper's Magazine, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Mother Jones, Boom: A Journal of California, Le Monde Diplomatique Dissent On-Line, Slate, The Wall Street Journal, and the Chicago Tribune. - taken from his staff profile, see "official website"

Read Next Recommendation

Discuss with your friends

Report incorrect product information.