History

Emmett Till, T.R.M. Howard, and the Fight for Civil Rights

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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.

Read the whole thing.

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.

NEXT: A Clean Plate

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  1. I am sure the murderers were also against single payer healthcare.

  2. 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.

    Not to nitpick, but that’s an old, inaccurate version of the Emmett Till facts. A lot of new research has been done in the past 10 years, including an FBI investigation. (The FBI report is available on-line and makes for powerful reading.)

    No one knows for sure what happened between Emmett Till and the white woman. Both of them were alone in the country store where the woman was clerk (as I recall, her husband owned the store). Emmett’s friends were waiting for him outside. Allegedly, a friend dared him to ask the woman out. The woman claimed that Emmett grabbed her and tried to kiss her.

    His body was disfigured from being in the water after he had been beaten. Some people claimed he was tortured with a drill before being killed, but the FBI found no evidence of that. It appears from the prosecution’s trial testimony that his body decomposed rapidly because he had been beaten up badly.

  3. The Jim Crow South was a very fucked up place.

  4. 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.

    What about the Washington Post?

  5. John, Kudos on your first comment.

    It is my opinion that the deep south is still fucked. Obviously not like it was 50 years ago. That hatred is still in a lot of people, young and old. It just doesn’t get acted on in the same ways since the law and order folks started actually frowning on lynching black folk.

  6. brotherben, you’re the one who is fucked. You assume that people from the Deep South are racist simply because of where they grew up. You are the bigot.

  7. brotherben, you’re the one who is fucked. You assume that people from the Deep South are racist simply because of where they grew up. You are the bigot.

    Calm down, I think he’s referring to the persistence of cultural trends (negative as well as positive). I don’t think bb is arguing that fucked up and bigoted people are limited to the South, or even that race-hatred is a majority attitude in the region.

  8. Euler, brotherben said “a lot of people.”

    Is that incorrect?

  9. Fucked up is the phrase I was trying to use, I forgot the word “up.”

    Euler, I am from the deep south and have lived in south Alabama for the last 12 years. I did not say that people growing up in the south are inherently racist. I was pointing out that I personally have seen a lot of people harboring some pretty nasty attitudes toward blacks and that it is my opinion that the thing that keeps them from doing violence against blacks is the fact that the LEOs and the courts no longer tolerate that type of behaviour like they did 50 years ago.

  10. brotherben,

    Given the MassiveImmigration that the South has experienced since the 1950s there has been a fairly radical change in the demographic composition of the South. Indeed, that is much of the reason why the South went Republican; all the immigrating Yankees.

  11. brotherben,

    Fifty years ago the LEOs and the courts often encouraged that sort of behavior. That’s the primary difference I think.

  12. I have no idea if racial hatred is a majority here because I don’t know the majority of the white population. I would estimate the number of white people here and in Georgia, NW Florida and Mississippi that I have heard talk about doing harm to blacks to be several hundred. A small number considering the total population, but a significant number IMO. These people are from all age and economic classes, including regular churchgoers.

  13. I can’t argue with Ben. Just look at what passes for justice in Mississippi (and shamefully here in LA as well). There are still plenty of lynchings, they just take a lot longer now days.

  14. There’s no racism here in Georgia. The guys wearing pillow cases on their heads told me so.

  15. What a surprise, some guy grabs another guys wife and he ends up dead. Happens all the time. Just look at your local news media. The difference is the newsmedia won’t keep on repeating these stories all the time, it ends up on the back page and its forgotten

    Of course Emmett Till had a family with a history of acting stupid, his father was executed by the US Army for rape and murder in World War 2. You think with that history a son would keep his hands to himself.

  16. I was pointing out that I personally have seen a lot of people harboring some pretty nasty attitudes toward blacks

    The best race relations I have ever seen were in Richmond, VA. The worst were in Boston, MA. But that’s just me.

  17. You got that right!

  18. flamboyant …

    Is that a code word?

  19. Way to miss/ignore the context, DJF. Really. Bravo.

  20. Having lived in AL, NYC and now NJ I have to say that people in NYC are much more racist than people in AL. Or atleast they are much more vocal about it.

  21. I didn’t want to jack a thread with this story, but it fits in here distantly,

    Idaho candidate jokes about HuntingObama

  22. that should have read “Idaho republican gubernatorial candidate jokes about hunting Obama.”

  23. Out of curiosity, why is it just “white rascism”? Racism is a two way street.

  24. Dammit John, I caught your H1NoSpell1 virus.

  25. No matter what happened in that hick store, he was a child,period. Try it now and see what happens. That town would burn, I promise you that.

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