David Beito and Linda Royster Beito, authors of the captivating biography Black Maverick: T.R.M. Howard's Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power (read my review here), have a superb op-ed in today's Los Angeles Times detailing Howard's essential role in the Civil Rights movement:
Fifty-four years ago today, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Chicago boy visiting family in Mississippi, was abducted, mutilated and slain after he allegedly whistled at a white woman. Several days later, his horribly disfigured body was fished out of the Tallahatchie River. Many such tragedies had previously happened to black Americans and then been ignored. The Till case was different because of the efforts of a flamboyant and wealthy black planter and surgeon, T.R.M. Howard.
Howard's place in history has been woefully slighted. Without him, we might never have heard of Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, Medgar Evers or Operation PUSH. Howard was the crucial link connecting the Till slaying and the rise of the modern civil rights movement.
Footnote: At Liberty & Power, David Beito reveals that "The Chicago Tribune (T.R.M. Howard's and Emmett Till's hometown newspaper) and the Washington Post were not interested in running this piece linking Howard to the anniversary of Emmett Till's slaying nor was the Washington Post." Make of that what you will.