Citation

Emmett Till’s Disappearance in the White Press

Abstract | Word Stems | Keywords | Association | Citation | Similar Titles



Abstract:

Scholars have long noted the disparate coverage provided by black and white media outlets for the torture and killing of fourteen-year-old Emmett Till in the summer of 1955. While images of Till’s mutilated head famously appeared in back-to-back issues of Jet magazine, not a single white newspaper, magazine or television station reproduced images of Till’s corpse until decades later.
To the extent that historians deal with the absence of Till’s body in the white press, they explain it as a function of the choices made by blacks. In their Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation (2007), reporters Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff draw on the work of the photographic historian Vicki Goldberg and the recollections of the civil rights photographer Ernest Withers to conclude, “Few whites saw the photo [of Till’s corpse], and Negroes had to buy Jet to see it. Johnson Publications held and exercised exclusive rights to the photograph, taken by one of its staffers, David Jackson, thus keeping it out of the hands of white newspapers [and] television.” The most recent accounts of the photograph’s publication history continue to stress this interpretation, seeing its absence in the mainstream media as beyond the control of whites.
My paper places the non-publication of Till’s image back into its historical context and argues that the white media’s failure to publish photographs of Till was a decision whites made in support of their racial interests. I demonstrate that Johnson Publications held rights to only one of several images of Till’s corpse then in circulation, that white Chicago newspapers had several photographers covering the boy’s open-casket funeral, and that white mid-century publications were willing to reproduce graphic images of the dead when doing so advanced interests they championed. After establishing the availability of Till’s image to white editors, I contrast the white embargo of such images with the decision of ten major black publications to reproduce the corpse. Based on an examination of the images of violence against blacks that whites were then willing to publish, I speculate that northern whites’ tacit racial identification with the killers made the display of the most-gruesome photographs of violence more than they could bear. In agreement with the many mid-century blacks who claimed a direct correlation between the visibility of Till’s corpse and the start of racial reform, I argue that whites sacrificed racial justice in order to protect their threatened sense of self.
Convention
Need a solution for abstract management? All Academic can help! Contact us today to find out how our system can help your annual meeting.
Submission - Custom fields, multiple submission types, tracks, audio visual, multiple upload formats, automatic conversion to pdf.Review - Peer Review, Bulk reviewer assignment, bulk emails, ranking, z-score statistics, and multiple worksheets!
Reports - Many standard and custom reports generated while you wait. Print programs with participant indexes, event grids, and more!Scheduling - Flexible and convenient grid scheduling within rooms and buildings. Conflict checking and advanced filtering.
Communication - Bulk email tools to help your administrators send reminders and responses. Use form letters, a message center, and much more!Management - Search tools, duplicate people management, editing tools, submission transfers, many tools to manage a variety of conference management headaches!
Click here for more information.

Association:
Name: American Studies Association Annual Meeting
URL:
http://www.theasa.net


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p508684_index.html
Direct Link:
HTML Code:

MLA Citation:

Berger, Martin. "Emmett Till’s Disappearance in the White Press" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Baltimore, Baltimore, MD, <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p508684_index.html>

APA Citation:

Berger, M. A. "Emmett Till’s Disappearance in the White Press" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Baltimore, Baltimore, MD <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p508684_index.html

Publication Type: Internal Paper
Abstract: Scholars have long noted the disparate coverage provided by black and white media outlets for the torture and killing of fourteen-year-old Emmett Till in the summer of 1955. While images of Till’s mutilated head famously appeared in back-to-back issues of Jet magazine, not a single white newspaper, magazine or television station reproduced images of Till’s corpse until decades later.
To the extent that historians deal with the absence of Till’s body in the white press, they explain it as a function of the choices made by blacks. In their Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation (2007), reporters Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff draw on the work of the photographic historian Vicki Goldberg and the recollections of the civil rights photographer Ernest Withers to conclude, “Few whites saw the photo [of Till’s corpse], and Negroes had to buy Jet to see it. Johnson Publications held and exercised exclusive rights to the photograph, taken by one of its staffers, David Jackson, thus keeping it out of the hands of white newspapers [and] television.” The most recent accounts of the photograph’s publication history continue to stress this interpretation, seeing its absence in the mainstream media as beyond the control of whites.
My paper places the non-publication of Till’s image back into its historical context and argues that the white media’s failure to publish photographs of Till was a decision whites made in support of their racial interests. I demonstrate that Johnson Publications held rights to only one of several images of Till’s corpse then in circulation, that white Chicago newspapers had several photographers covering the boy’s open-casket funeral, and that white mid-century publications were willing to reproduce graphic images of the dead when doing so advanced interests they championed. After establishing the availability of Till’s image to white editors, I contrast the white embargo of such images with the decision of ten major black publications to reproduce the corpse. Based on an examination of the images of violence against blacks that whites were then willing to publish, I speculate that northern whites’ tacit racial identification with the killers made the display of the most-gruesome photographs of violence more than they could bear. In agreement with the many mid-century blacks who claimed a direct correlation between the visibility of Till’s corpse and the start of racial reform, I argue that whites sacrificed racial justice in order to protect their threatened sense of self.


Similar Titles:
Black and White Men Together: The Case of the Disappearing Organizational Narrative of Racial Sexual Preference

A Literary Interpretation of the Lynching of Emmett Till through the Eyes of Mamie Carthan

Our Collective Memory of Emmett Till

Black press, white press, and their opposition: The case of the police killing of Tyisha Miller

Exposing Lynching: Televisuality and the Murder of Emmett Till


 
All Academic, Inc. is your premier source for research and conference management. Visit our website, www.allacademic.com, to see how we can help you today.