David Tell, an associate professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas, has received an award from the National Endowment for the Humanities that will allow him to continue his research on the murder of Emmett Till.
Emmett Till was a teenager from Chicago who spent the summer of 1955 with relatives in Mississippi. Till was accused of whistling at a White women. For this violation of the unwritten laws of Jim Crow, Till was brutally murdered and his death became a lightening rod for the civil rights movement. A trial with an all-White jury acquitted two White men of Till’s murder. The men later boasted in an interview with Look magazine that they had committed the murder.
Dr. Tell is working on a book project on how questions of geography and race have altered remembrances of the Till case. The book will focus on how the murder was perceived in three different regions: locally in Tallahatchie County, in the Mississippi Delta region, and in the state of Mississippi as a whole.