Here is the full, shocking story of the lynching that exposed the true brutality of the nation's tradition of racism to a confident prosperous post-World War II America and helped ignite the 1960s civil rights movement.
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Stephen J. Whitfield is Max Richter Chair in American Civilization at Brandeis University. He is the author of A Death in the Delta: The Story of Emmett Till and A Critical American: The Politics of Dwight MacdonaldFrom Publishers Weekly:
Whitfield ( Jews in America's Life and Thought , etc.) here examines the national reaction to the grisly murder in 1955 of Emmett Till, a black teenager accused of whistling at a white woman, whose killers were acquitted by a white jury in Mississippi. The Brown v. Board of Education decision, Whitfield argues persuasively, had strengthened the miscegenation paranoia of Southern white supremicists that was based on their attitudes towards race and sexuality. He further asserts, however, that despite federal passivity in regard to the rights of blacks and the Mississippi state-supported Citizens Councils that intimidated and terrorized its large black minority, Till's sensational case, succinctly reported here, imparted a crucially vital impulse to the civil rights movement of the '60s. The author concludes that the feminist movement, its members' civil rights activities and sexual emancipation have helped to reduce racism.
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