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Regional Identities and Sectional Messages: The Print Media’s Stories of Emmett Till

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Abstract:

In August 1955, at least two white Mississippians kidnapped, tortured and lynched a 14-year-old African-American boy from Chicago. Emmett Till, the unfortunate victim, was guilty of whistling and making inappropriate comments towards a white woman. Though Till’s crime was minimal, his murderers saw fit to beat him, shoot him in the head, tie a cotton gin fan around his neck with barbed wire and dump him in the Tallahatchie River. Within a month, the two men were acquitted of the crime. The lynching caused an uproar in the public discourse and the acquittal left many Americans questioning the reality of the democracy upon which this nation was founded. Local newspapers provided a forum for readers, journalist and editor to debate issues surrounding Emmett Till’s murder. This discourse analyzed perceptions of legitimate and irrelevant, important and trivial, and patriotic and subversive. Ultimately, this dialogue tested the definition of American democracy, equality and freedom.
My poster presentation provides a textual analysis of the print media’s coverage of the lynching. It employs a regional approach, while looking at the coverage through the lenses of mainstream and Black newspaper outlets. In the four regions- Northeast, Mid-North, Upper South, and Deep South- I will present articles, editorials, letters to the editor and pictures that depict how Emmett Till was covered in regional African-American and mainstream presses. The “stories” of Till that emerge give us better insight into 1950s America, Cold War rhetoric, and regional perceptions of nation and nationalism.
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Name: American Historical Association
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http://www.historians.org


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p27153_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Mace, Darryl. "Regional Identities and Sectional Messages: The Print Media’s Stories of Emmett Till" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, <Not Available>. 2013-12-17 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p27153_index.html>

APA Citation:

Mace, D. "Regional Identities and Sectional Messages: The Print Media’s Stories of Emmett Till" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association <Not Available>. 2013-12-17 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p27153_index.html

Publication Type: Poster
Abstract: In August 1955, at least two white Mississippians kidnapped, tortured and lynched a 14-year-old African-American boy from Chicago. Emmett Till, the unfortunate victim, was guilty of whistling and making inappropriate comments towards a white woman. Though Till’s crime was minimal, his murderers saw fit to beat him, shoot him in the head, tie a cotton gin fan around his neck with barbed wire and dump him in the Tallahatchie River. Within a month, the two men were acquitted of the crime. The lynching caused an uproar in the public discourse and the acquittal left many Americans questioning the reality of the democracy upon which this nation was founded. Local newspapers provided a forum for readers, journalist and editor to debate issues surrounding Emmett Till’s murder. This discourse analyzed perceptions of legitimate and irrelevant, important and trivial, and patriotic and subversive. Ultimately, this dialogue tested the definition of American democracy, equality and freedom.
My poster presentation provides a textual analysis of the print media’s coverage of the lynching. It employs a regional approach, while looking at the coverage through the lenses of mainstream and Black newspaper outlets. In the four regions- Northeast, Mid-North, Upper South, and Deep South- I will present articles, editorials, letters to the editor and pictures that depict how Emmett Till was covered in regional African-American and mainstream presses. The “stories” of Till that emerge give us better insight into 1950s America, Cold War rhetoric, and regional perceptions of nation and nationalism.

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