Contact Susan Klopfer
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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 http://emmett-till.blogspot.com/2011/08/why-is-death-of-emmett-till-important.html 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."