Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Author Shares Personal Experiences Tracking Down Civil Rights Stories

In observance of Black History Month, the Fairfield, Iowa Public Library is hosting a free program by Susan Klopfer called "The Mississippi Story Behind Emmett Till" at 7:15 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 22.

Susan Klopfer, the author of several books, including the civil rights non-fiction book "Who Killed Emmett Till?" is an award-winning journalist and former Prentice Hall editor.

The author will have a drawing during the program, giving away a free copy of the audiobook version of "Who Killed Emmett Till?" narrated by Fairfield’s own Jeffrey Hedquist. Refreshments will be served and there will also be a Q&A session.

Ms. Klopfer will be interviewed tomorrow on Thursday, Feb. 18, on the talk show called “Tanner & Moore,” which airs from 7-8 p.m. on KRUU-LP (100.1 on the FM dial)
On “Tanner & Moore,” BBC Filmmaker Stuart Tanner discusses current global events with KRUU Station Manager James Moore, revolving around a new theme weekly. Their show is replayed the following Monday from 7-8 a.m.

Ms. Klopfer lived in the Mississippi Delta for two years on the grounds of the state's most infamous prison while her husband worked as a psychologist at Parchman Penitentiary five years ago. Dr. Fred Klopfer is currently a psychologist at the state mental hospital in Mount Pleasant, IA.

The author spent long hours traveling around the Delta, gathering stories about the civil rights movement from people who took part. She will share new facts about the Emmett Till murder and other intriguing civil rights stories. She interviewed first-hand witnesses to key incidents surrounding the 1955 murder that took place just a few miles from the Klopfer’s home at Parchman.

Emmett Till was a 14-year-old Chicago schoolboy whose death inspired Rosa Parks to take her stand in Montgomery, Alabama. While visiting his cousins in Mississippi, Emmett was lynched for whistling at a white store owner's wife. Over in Alabama, Parks had already been planning her act of civil disobedience to sit in the “white section” of a city bus. After hearing about the acquittal of Till's murderers, she and the NAACP knew the time had finally arrived to stand up to the “Jim Crow” laws in the South. Emmett Till's death is now considered to be the spark that set off the modern civil rights movement.

Ms. Klopfer will share other compelling civil rights stories, like the story of the five Carter children who decided on their own to integrate their town's schools and signed necessary school forms while their parents were out of town. White students and most teachers taunted them nearly every school day, and their parents were threatened with guns. But all of the Carter children ended up with college degrees.

The author sheds new light on the recently released records from Mississippi’s secret Sovereignty Commission. With a mission to investigate and halt all integration attempts, the commission operated as a spy agency within the state government from 1956 to 1972.

Those without a radio may listen to the live streaming radio show by clicking on the words “Listen Live” in the upper right-hand corner of the home page at:

Archives of “Tanner & Moore” radio interviews may be heard at:

To learn more about the “Who Killed Emmett Till?” audiobook, go to:

To learn more about the author, go to her website at:

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