The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
THE BLOOD OF EMMETT TILL by Timothy B. Tyson
THE BLOOD OF EMMETT TILL is a tremendously important and terribly perturbing work of nonfiction. Intensifying the perturbation and pervasive grief, even now, 61 years in the future, is that the Emmett Till tragedy occurred. This is not a work of scary fiction; this is real.
In August 1955, a fourteen-year-old Chicago adolescent traveled with family to visit relatives in Mississippi. He eventually returned, but not alive. For shortly after his arrival, he was abducted from the home of his cousins, at night, and murdered. His “failing”? He may—or may not—have addressed a white woman.
The author, Timothy B. Tyson, is a Ph.D. In American History, who as a child experienced a public murder of a black male by a white male, in his own home town. In this book, his clear-eyed understanding of history, particularly pre-Civil Rights Movement history, not only in Mississippi and throughout the South, but also in segregationist Chicago, vividly portrays life as it existed for African-Americans, 90 years after the end of the Civil War. The political antics, white-supremacy interests, and fear above all of “miscegenation” or “mongrelization” during this era are revealed as historian Tyson turns over the rocks of deceit, betrayal, and race rage. Certainly contemporary conditions are far from ideal, but the Jim Crow Era here brought to life should sicken and dismay every reader. The murder of Emmett Till was wrong on all counts, but one of its consequences was to ignite the fires of Civil Rights and propel the Movement that has brought some changes.
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