The Lynching of Emmett Till and the Case for Preserving Print Culture
In the summer of 1955, Emmett Till, a fourteen-year-old Black boy from Chicago, was lynched in Mississippi for allegedly making advances toward a white woman. This racial killing became, as one respected civil rights activist claimed, “the best advertised lynching” in U.S. history and galvanized Black activism central to the civil rights movement. Why? How? Historian Brenna Greer argues that answering these questions requires not only studying, but also getting one’s hands on, issues of Jet magazine that reported on the Till lynching. Drawing on this small archive, which Wellesley College’s special collections recently acquired, Greer demonstrates the value of Black print culture – in its material form – for understanding the past.