Reviewed by Charles Kiker, Ph. D., American Baptist Minister (retired)
Emmett Till’s body was exhumed in Illinois almost a half century after his murder in Mississippi, to try to ascertain whether there might be evidence involving anyone other than Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam in the murder. Bryant and Milam had been acquitted in a trial in 1955 in which the jury deliberated only 67 minutes. Milam had died in 1980 and Bryant in 1994, so they could not be tried in federal court. But might there be someone else who could be?
Although it does not ascribe a starring role to Emmett Till, it is fitting that this book begins with a description of the exhumation of the body of Emmett Till in 2005, a half century after his murder.
Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 set the stage, but that day in December, 1955 when Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama could well be designated as the beginning of the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s. But America’s attention was riveted on Jim Crow by the murder of fourteen year old Emmett Till a few months earlier in August, 1955. The murder and the rapid acquittal of the murderers reportedly stiffened the spine of Rosa Parks for her stand against segregation. The murder of Emmett Till was an important milestone in my own development regarding race relations. (more…)