Friday, August 26, 2011

New Mexico, Civil Rights Author Releases Internet 's "TOP 10" List of Emmett Till Books

Media Release
Contact Susan Klopfer

At right, A Chicago newspaper reports on the murder of young Emmett Till (may be subject to copyright)
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(Gallup) -- In observation of Black History Month and the upcoming 57th anniversary of Emmett Till's murder in Mississippi on Aug. 28, civil rights author Susan Klopfer, has released a top 10 list of Emmett Till books and ebooks appearing on the Internet.

"These are books and ebooks that consistently come up in the first ten positions when Emmett Till is googled.

"And yes, of course I am pleased that both of my Emmett Till books are up high on the search engines," Klopfer said, "as well as my eBook, Who Killed Emmett Till? But all of these books are well worth reading, for anyone who wants to learn more about the modern civil rights movement."

The 14-year-old Chicago schoolboy, Till, was the victim of a racist lynching Aug. 28, 1955, in the rural Mississippi Delta.

"People there were angry after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, Brown v the Topeka, Kansas Board of Education, a year before Till's trip to the Delta in 1954.

Then the second Supreme Court decision, Brown II came, "and they were furious, because the second decision said they must integrate schools with 'all deliberate speed.'"

"It was already a horrible time for racism, particularly in Mississippi and the South, and people were in no mood for black children who stood out and didn't mind their manners," Klopfer said.

Till was forcibly taken from his relatives' home in the small cotton town of Money, after angering a local white store owner. Her husband and a relative beat and killed Till, after taking him to a barn at the edge of another town a county away. "His body was taken to still another location, tied to a cotton gin fan, thrown into the Tallahatchie River and was only found after it rose to the surface," Klopfer said.

The Emmett Till incident is seen as the spark that ignited the modern civil rights movement, according to major U.S. historians.

"Emmett's mother, with the help of powerful Chicago unions, got his body shipped back to Chicago. without the help of the unions, this could not have been done.She made sure that photos were taken and that the casket was open, so that people around the world could see what happened to her son."

A month later, the two men identified as Till's killer were acquitted by an all-whte jury. They later confessed in detail to a magazine reporter. But once they were found innocent, Rosa Parks of Montgomery, Ala. decide the time was right for her to take her civil rights stand -- to sit at the front of a city bus -- bringing the start of the modern civil rights movement in the United States.

"Parks later told Emmett's mother that she was thinking of Emmett when she decided to make her move."

Klopfer said it is important to place the Emmett Till story in proper context, and she recently posted an article, Eight Reasons Why the Death of Emmett Till is Important Today, on her Emmett Till blog at where she frequently posts on Till and related civil rights issues.

That Till's death sparked the modern civil rights movement is listed as the first reason on Klofper's list.

Here is the googled list of Emmett Till books -- the top ten list as of today:

1. The Emmett Till Book
2. A Wreath for Emmett Till
3. The Lynching of Emmett Till: a documentary narrative
4. Who Killed Emmett Till? (eBook)
5. (a link to) Death of Innocence by Mrs. Till-Mobley
6. Getting Away With Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case
7. 'Emmett Till': A Poem of Sorrow, and Hope
8. Eyewitness Account: Emmett Till's cousin Simeon Wright
9. Teacher's Guide for A Wreath for Emmett Till
10.Emmett Till in Literary Memory and Imagination.

Klopfer said her favorite Emmett Till book, "the book that motivated me the most to keep learning about this murder, was Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America by Mamie Till-Mobley, the mother of Emmett Till.

"Till's murder was so atrocious. It really galvanized the civil rights movement, leaving an indelible mark on American racial consciousness. Whenever I have interviewed a black civil rights activist who is older, they have told me how Till's death was a defining moment.

"Mamie Carthan was an ordinary African-American woman growing up in 1930s Chicago, a young woman who was heavily influenced by her mother. She married Louis Till, and while the marriage didn't last, due to the husband's domestic brutality, they did have Emmett."

Till's mother went through "an incredible change," as she began her career of activism when she insisted on the open-casket viewing of her son's gruesomely disfigured body," Klopfer said. "It was a terribly brave thing for her to do."

It has been reported that over a hundred thousand people attended the Chicago service. "Perhaps even more people walked by that casket."

The trial of J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant, was considered the first full-scale media event of the civil rights movement. "European reporters, for the first time, covered a major U.S. civil rights-related trial. They went into the most dangerous part of Mississippi, at the time, to do their job."

Mamie Till-Mobley, "pulled herself back from the brink of suicide to become a teacher and inspire black children throughout the country. She died as she completed this memoir."

One of Klopfer's professional colleagues, Keith Beauchamp, the producer of the first extensive documentary on Emmett Till, "told me that he promised Mrs. Till-Mobley that he would keep this story alive.

"He did, and Beauchamp is the reason why our nation knows this story, better and better, as the years go by."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Special Civil Rights Program set for Monday on Celebrating Truth

Media Release
Dr. E. Faye Williams

Dr. E. Faye Williams, Host
Monday, August 22nd, 2011 at 6PM-EST

Special Guests: Mr. Derrick Johnson – State President for the Mississippi Conference of the NAACP; Ms. Rose Sanders (Faya Rose) – Selma, Alabama Attorney, Civil and Education Rights Activist; Ms. Jannette Lee – Georgia Civil Rights Activists

Please follow us on Twitter @ctruthproducer and join our Facebook fan page

Sign on to listen at ; scroll down to Monday 6pm

# # #

Friday, August 5, 2011

Lets Hope The Help Is Not Just Another Gone With The Wind or Mississippi Burning Historical Failure of a Civil Rights Movie

Media Release
Contact Susan Klopfer
Gallup, New Mexico 87301

Here's Hoping The Help Is Not Another Historical Failure of a Movie

By Susan Klopfer, civil rights and diversity author/speaker

Whore’s Lake, outside of Drew, Miss., where white KKK females reportedly threw bodies of their black murder victims, as late as the early 1960s. Drew is some 40 miles southeast of Greenwood, the set of a summer movie The Help that focuses on Mississippi’s civil rights past. (Photo by Susan Klopfer)

For many folks like my husband and me, summer means buttered popcorn and escape movies. The Help, currently in the Hollywood spotlight, opens Aug. 10, and so far, the California film machine is staying busy, pumping out media releases and news stories, some even pledging this Mississippi-based summertime movie is not another whitewash, like Mississippi Burning.

Their promises are arriving daily through countless pre-movie stories, on and offline, yet it is starting to feel (at least a little, to me) like The Help probably does not do much to portray the truly violent history of what was going on around its characters at the time it takes place, the early 1960s in Greenwood, Mississippi.

I want The Help to leave audiences with some real education and do more than lightly dip into Greenwood’s notorious, racist history. Having lived in the Delta, writing extensively about its modern civil rights movement, I know this town was far more than a sleepy, little Southern berg, where black maids gossiped, white women attended social club meetings, and only white males were violent towards African Americans, who long after the Civil War were still struggling to survive in this country, especially behind the Magnolia Curtain.

If nothing else, if this movie does not correct this idea, do not come away believing that only white males committed atrocious violence, back in those days. There are small lakes and ponds scattered throughout the Delta, known to be the final resting placing of countless bodies, African American murder victims.

People still living near Whore’s Lake over in Drew, for example, will tell you that black women were killed by white women, and their bodies were thrown into these murky waters. The white women, apparently Klan members, were reacting to rumors that their husbands and boyfriends were sleeping with these black women. In today's town of Drew, children still play on segregated baseball fields.

There are so many stories I could share about Greenwood – violent accounts mostly kept out of today’s “history” books, especially those school books meeting Texas curriculum standards.

One of my favorite stories is how Greenwood activist, Aaron Henry, successfully kept Christmas profits away from white Greenwood when he took on the town’s white merchants in a highly successful strike. (See A Christmas Boycott That Worked.)

I wonder if Henry is even mentioned in The Help. I do not know how one could tell the story of Greenwood’s modern civil rights movement history without including this famous civil rights leader.

Apparently, this DreamWorks film attempts to present a complex tale of white women and their relationships with the black house cleaners who also care for their children. The script, based on Kathryn Stockett's 2009 novel, has one thing going for it: the book's popularity. Reviewers loved it, readers couldn't finish it fast enough, and it stayed atop bestseller lists for close to two years, according to Los Angeles Times reporter, Nicole Sperling.

Some early critics are detracted over a white author writing in a black dialect for a pair of maids who serve as two of the book's three narrators. “Others felt the white narrator — an idealistic college grad named Skeeter Phelan, who persuades the black maids of Jackson, Miss., to tell their stories to her and causes a sensation when she publishes their tales anonymously — was too much of a savior,” Sperling reports.

Actor Octavia Spencer, known for her small but powerful role in "Seven Pounds" starring Will Smith, plays Minny Jackson, a sharp-tongued maid with an abusive husband. So would a sharp-tongued maid have survived in Greenwood in the early 60s? More than likely, if she angered the town’s white power brokers, she would be beaten to death or at least raped and left to die.

Henry, so courageous and profound, was typically cautious and polite in his dealings with Greenwood’s white power base, and yet this remarkable leader often feared for his life. His Greenwood home and his pharmacy were bombed. His house remains in rubbles in a Greenwood neighborhood. Will these Aaron Henry sites appear in the background?

Oscar nominee Viola Davis ("Doubt") plays the role of servant Aibileen. Davis tells Sperling of seeing a “huge responsibility within the African-American community.” However, there have been “entire blogs committed to saying that I'm a sellout just for playing a maid," Davis adds.

One good thing going for The Help, is that it was filmed in the South, primarily in Greenwood, with a population 15,000, some 100 miles north of Jackson. History lurks around every corner and Mississippi's ghosts are still present — in the nearby Tallahatchie River where in 1955 the brutally beaten body of a 14-year-old chicago black boy, Emmett Till, was dumped. Killed for whistling at a white store-owner's wife, over in the cotton hamlet of Money.

Till’s slaying on Aug. 28 1955 helped mobilize the civil rights movement, since Rosa Parks of Montgomery, Ala., heard about the killing and how jurors found the two accused men innocent of killing Till who was visiting Delta relatives. She had already planned her act of civil disobedience, and decided the time had finally come to take action.

Mississippi’s first state leader of the NAACP, the talented Medgar Evers, was shot and killed in front of his Jackson home by Byron De La Beckwith, a Greenwood member of the white Citizen’s Councils, an organization headquartered in this Delta town. Councils members, termed by journalist Hodding Carter, Jr. as the “uptown Klan,” were not known for their civility to black citizens.

Councils came into being soon after Brown v. Topeka Board of Education as people in Mississippi reacted with fury over school integration. One month before Emmett Till came into Mississippi, a well-known minister, Rev. George Lee of Belzoni, was shot and killed in front of his business. Local officers would assert that Lee’s tooth fillings exploded in his head. Belzoni is about an hour southwest of Greenwood. (Voting Rights Act of 1965: Rev. George Lee Remembered)

Filming in the ghostly Mississippi Delta apparently had an impact on their performances, both women told Sperling. Spencer said she returned to Greenwood in May, after the film, and realized she “liked it a lot better.” But while the ensemble was working there, the actress remembered being unhappy.

“When you are shooting right around the corner from the Tallahatchie River and you know that ... Emmett Till's body was found in that river ... and you know (Michael) Schwerner, (Andrew) Goodman and (James) Chaney (the civil rights workers killed in 1964 about 100 miles east of Greenwood) and the history of that and the history of Medgar Evers, and the fact that those people look just like you, it's hard to relax,” she told the Times.

In nearby Baptist Town, where some of the exterior filming occurred, this all-black community today reports 85 percent unemployment and there has not been a single high school graduate in years.

So did the actors feel any extra sense of responsibility in playing these roles because of the history? Here is what they told Sperling:

“Spencer: There are a lot of people who don't like the idea of us playing maids without knowing anything about the story. Not knowing how proactive these women are in their community and how they are propagating change.

“Davis: They don't care. It's the fact that we are playing maids. It's the image and the message more so than the execution.”

Both women had to pause and really think about this history, before signing on – making certain The Help was not just another "Gone With the Wind."

I wonder if they read any books written by civil rights veterans (CRM-Vets) to prepare for their roles? This group is formally organized and many members have written countless, detailed histories of their experiences trying to bring Mississippi into the modern world.

I have not seen their research mentioned and my doubts are this film will not be much better than GWTW or Mississippi Burning – if so, a real disappointment. Bringing in consultants, like CRM-Vet and author Constance Curry, a civil rights activist and prize-winning author, would have given The Help far more credence.

Curry is loaded with credentials -- a fellow at the Institute for Women's Studies, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, Curry has a law degree from Woodrow Wilson College and did graduate work in political science at Columbia University before she was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Bordeaux in France. She earned her B.A. degree in History, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude from Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia. She was a Fellow at the University of Virginia's Carter G. Woodson Institute, Center for Civil Rights, Charlottesville.1990-91.

She is the author of several well-known civil rights works, including her award winning book, Silver Rights (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1995; Paper back Harcourt Brace, 1996), which won the Lillian Smith Book Award for nonfiction in 1996; was a finalist for the 1996 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award; was recommended by the New York Times for summer reading in 1996; and was named the Outstanding Book on the subject of Human Rights in North America by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights.

With an introduction by Marian Wright Edelman, Silver Rights tells the true story of Mrs. Mae Bertha Carter and her family's struggle for education in Drew, Miss., a tiny Sunflower County, cotton town, close to Greenwood. The Carters were Mississippi Delta sharecroppers living on a cotton plantation in the 1960s when they sent seven of their thirteen children to desegregate an all-white school system in 1965 after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Actually, the children took the lead, enrolling in the previously segregated white schools when their parents were out of town. Curry's book provides a wonderful look into the family's determination to obtain an education for their children.

Her most recent book is Mississippi Harmony with Ms. Winson Hudson, published fall 2002 by Palgrave/St, Martin's press. Mississippi Harmony tells the life story of Mrs. Winson a civil rights leader from Leake County, Miss.,who also challenged segregation in the 1960s.

Curry also collaborated in and edited Deep in Our Hearts: Nine White Women in the Freedom Movement (University of Georgia Press, 2000) and the book that began my person civil rights journey, Aaron Henry: the Fire Ever Burning (University Press of Mississippi, 2000). This book still makes me cry and is my personal favorite. It is the book I recommend for someone new to this history.

Curry, who has countless more credentials, is the producer of a newly released documentary film entitled "The Intolerable Burden," (winner of the John O'Connor film award, Jan. 2004, from the American Historical Association) based on her book Silver Rights, but showing today's resegregation in public schools and the fast track to prison for youth of color.

Curry, like me, is white. She is a woman who is firm in her message, and is someone who would have had no trouble – no trouble, at all – making certain The Help tells the real story of the modern civil rights movement, and doesn’t end up as just another horribly inaccurate documentary of this most important time of American history.

For those who are looking to learn some new history about the modern civil rights movement, seeing The Help might be a good place to start. But only followed by reading books based on the true stories, books that are solidly researched, books telling readers what really happened some fifty to sixty years back in a time warp that hasn’t totally disappeared.

Good reading. You know that you can still pop some kernals before you sit down to your book, kindle, Nook or iPad.
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Susan Klopfer is the author of three civil rights books: Who Killed Emmett Till?, Where Rebels Roost; Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited, and The Emmett Till Book. She recently wrote Cash In On Diversity; How Getting Along With Others Pays Off.

Susan is a former award-winning journalist and was an acquisitions and development editor for Prentice Hall. Susan holds a degree in Communication from Hanover College and an M.B.A. from Indiana Wesleyan University. She lives in Gallup, New Mexico. She enjoys speaking on civil rights and diversity.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Miss. provides $152K to restore 1950s service station connected to Emmett Till’s killing; Gallup civil rights author responds

Information from: The Greenwood Commonwealth,

MONEY, Miss. — The Mississippi Department of Archives and History is providing $152,000 to restore a gas station as part of the story of Emmett Till, a black 14-year-old from Chicago who was lynched for whistling at a white woman in August of 1955.

Ben Roy’s Service Station stands next to what used to be Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market, owned by Carolyn Bryant — the woman Till is said to have whistled at — and her husband, Roy.

Several nights afterward, Roy Bryant and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, killed and mutilated Till. An all-white jury acquitted them of murder, but they later confessed to the crime in an article in Look Magazine.

The station will be restored as part of the Mississippi Civil Rights Historical Program, The Greenwood Commonwealth ( reported Sunday.


Gallup, New Mexico civil rights author, Susan Klopfer, believes the state of Mississippi is making “a good effort” to recognize its role in this civil rights event, and to help others know the story, as the 56th anniversary of Emmett Till murder moves closer.

“I am always surprised when a teacher, anthropologist, history professor, a John Grisham fan (this one always stops me) or some other person who should know this story gives me a blank stare when I mention my eBook on Till.

“And yes -- this important story was not being taught in high school history classes way back in 1966 when I was a student in Lakeview, Oregon. Most white people and white historians, especially in the North, had not heard the story and certainly were not teaching it. No one in my college U.S. history class touched upon the Emmett Till story, either,” Klopfer said.

"And from what I've observed, this story is still not being taught in most history classes, unless the teacher is particularly enlightened."

The Gallup resident is the author of two books on Till, The Emmettt Till Book, and Who Killed Emmett Till?, The latter book, published both in eBook and print format, was recently nominated for a Global eBook award through publisher Dan Poynter of Santa Barbara, Calif.

“The story goes that in late August of 1955, Mamie Till Bradley put her only son on a train bound from Chicago to Mississippi so he could visit relatives. Having instructed him to mind his manners and corral his quick tongue, Mrs. Bradley made sure the boy kissed her good-bye before watching him scramble to make his train.

“He was a fearless boy, Emmett Louis Till, a 14-year-old inner city kid who sparkled with an impish sense of humor. Such boldness, his mother feared, could get a young black boy into trouble in the heart of the Deep South. It ended up putting him into an early grave,” Klopfer said.

“While looking for something to do on a hot and humid Mississippi Delta day, Emmett and his cousins ambled into the tiny town of Money, Mississippi, which boasted little more than a general store run by Roy Bryant and his wife, Carolyn, a young white woman.

“Carolyn actually lives today in Mississippi, and could shed more light on what really happened next, but she continues to refuse to talk. Even to the FBI.”

What exactly happened in the store is still unclear; there have been accounts that Emmett made a pass at Carolyn Bryant, whistling at her and calling her "baby" before his terrified companions pulled him out of the store and fled the inevitable consequences of disrespecting a white woman, Klopfer says.

“And there are still other stores that continue to float around the Delta. One story goes that Emmett was mentally challenged. Bryant tried to help him, and because he was African American, her racist husband heard about this and went ballistic.”

Three days later, Emmett was dragged from his bed at his uncle's house by Roy Bryant and his half brother, J.W. Milam. His body was later found floating in the Tallahatchie River, tied to a seventy-five pound fan and brutalized beyond recognition.

According to the Gallup civil rights author, Mississippi authorities wanted Mrs. Bradley to keep the world from seeing "images of the grotesque waxen features that dripped from her son's bones, to allow no sunlight to pass through the hole in his skull, or reveal the eyeball that lolled upon his cheek."

But Emmett Till's mother showed great courage, especially for those horribly racist times in this country. “She pried the lid open from her son's coffin to show the world exactly what hatred looked like.”

One person deeply affected by photos of Till appearing in the national and international press, was Rosa Parks who was living in Montgomery, Ala.

“Parks had been planning her act of civil disobedience, to sit at the front of a city bus on her way home from work. After she learned the two men were found innocent of killing Till (and they later confessed to this murder), Parks decided to take a stand.

“Thus, Till’s murder is seen by today's historians as an important spark that ignited the modern civil rights movement.”

Klopfer said she has spent further time researching the life of a civil rights lawyer, Cleveland McDowell, “who was the same age as Till and lived in the small town of Drew, Miss., near the site of Till’s murder.”

McDowell, who Klopfer said she is currently writing a third book about, “was murdered in 1997 – after spending most of his life investigating civil rights murders and brutalities, including the murder of Emmett Till.

“There are many questions remaining about his murder that I will try to answer.”

DOJ Takes on Tucson Unified School District in Arizona; Civil Rights News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Monday, August 1, 2011

Justice Department Settles Employment Discrimination Lawsuit Against the Tucson Unified School District in Arizona

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice announced today that it has entered into a consent decree with the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) that, if approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, will resolve the department’s complaint alleging sex and/or national origin discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. The complaint alleges that the TUSD discriminated against Donna Guzman, Marcia Vela, Veronica Leon, Jimmy Miranda and Eddie Montano, female and/or Hispanic custodial employees of its Rincon/University High School (RHS), by subjecting them to harassment and a hostile work environment based on sex and/or national origin.

The complaint, which was filed along with the proposed consent decree in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, alleges that the TUSD violated Title VII by failing to take effective action that would stop one of its employees – a white, male custodian – from subjecting his co-workers to a series of harassing and abusive comments based on their sex and/or national origin, and subjecting Guzman and Vela to physical intimidation based on their sex and/or national origin, after the female and/or Hispanic co-workers had complained about his behavior to RHS and TUSD supervisory personnel numerous times.

Under the terms of the consent decree, TUSD must pay a total of $45,000 to Guzman, Vela, Leon, Miranda and Montano in compensatory damages. The consent decree also provides for injunctive relief requiring the TUSD to enforce its policies and procedures that prohibit sex and national origin discrimination and to train its officers and other employees on the prevention of sex and national origin discrimination.

“The Justice Department is committed to the vigorous enforcement of all federal civil rights laws under its jurisdiction, including Title VII’s prohibition against harassment in the workplace,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. “This lawsuit should send a clear message that the Department will take necessary action to eliminate and remedy the effects of unlawful harassment in our public sector workplaces.”

The lawsuit is based on two charges of discrimination filed by Guzman and Vela with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). After investigating the charges, finding reasonable cause to believe that the TUSD had discriminated against the charging parties and their similarly-situated co-employees and unsuccessfully attempting to conciliate the matter, the EEOC referred the charges to the department. More information about the EEOC is available at

The enforcement of Title VII and other federal employment discrimination laws is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division and its work is available on its website at .


Attorney General