Devery S. Anderson, Author of Emmitt Till Book, Speaks to Political Science StudentsDecember 8, 2016
Devery S. Anderson, the author of the book Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World And Propelled The Civil Rights Movement, spoke to a group of political science students at CSULB on December 5, 2016. The event was organized by political science lecturer James Fox.
Anderson’s book details a comprehensive chronology and post trial history of the August 1955 murder of a 14-year-old Chicago boy at the hands of JW Milam and Roy Bryant; young Emmett was accused of “wolf whistling” at Mr. Bryant’s 21-year-old spouse.
The murder of young Emmett followed the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which held that desegregation is unconstitutional. This was an unpopular decision within the state of Mississippi and throughout the deep South. Milam and Bryant were subsequently acquitted by an all-white jury.
A national firestorm of racial unrest arose after Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till, allowed for an open casket viewing as well as the publication of young Emmett’s disfigured face in a September 1955 copy of Jet magazine. This publication went nationwide and was one of the factors described by Rosa Parks in her decision to stand fast in December 1955, thus refusing to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.
Mr. Anderson learned about Emmett Till’s murder as an undergraduate student at the University of Utah in 1994, and as he told CSULB students, this case has “consumed him” ever since.
Mr. Anderson has been invited on several occasions to attend national events and panels discussing racial inequality and tensions throughout the United States. Recently he was invited to the opening of the African-American wing of the Smithsonian, where his book has been selected to be an exhibit in that wing.
Mr. Anderson informed CSULB students that his book has been selected as the historical source for an upcoming HBO miniseries, produced by Will Smith and Jay-Z, regarding Emmett Till.
After speaking to the students and after an extensive question and answer period, Mr. Anderson was gracious enough to talk individually with students as well as sign their copies of his book.