On today’s show we’re going to talk to historian and author Timothy Tyson. His new book, “The Blood of Emmett Till,” is an in-depth exploration of the horrific 1955 murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till, the Chicago boy who traveled to Money, Mississippi to visit his mother’s family and who after a fateful chance encounter with a white woman in a general store was kidnapped and brutally murdered.
Tyson’s book is making headlines because he conducted the first ever interview with Carolyn Bryant, the woman who accused Till of sexually harassing her, the claim that led to his murder. During the 2008 interview, Bryant admitted to Tyson that her story wasn’t true.
Famously, Emmett’s mother Mamie Till insisted on an open casket funeral to display the brutality of her son’s murder. Images of Till’s bloated, disfigured corpse were printed in Jet magazine and The Chicago Defender. The images became an international sensation and helped propel Till’s murder, as well the abominable state of race relations in the American South, to international prominence.
Tyson tells us that he set out not only to clarify the events that led to the murder, but also to fill in details that help us see Till as a real human being, not just a murdered martyr.
Here’s Bob Dylan singing “The Death of Emmett Till”:
Here’s a video that features Emmett’s Great Uncle Mose Wright and his mother Mamie Till: