Emmett Till Murder
Death of Innocence /
A Death in the Delta /
The Lynching of Emmett Till /
Getting Away with Murder
Film on Emmett
The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till /
The Murder of Emmett Till
* * * *
Approved Killing in Mississippi
By William Bradford Huie
In the long
history of man’s humanity to man, racial conflict has
produced some of the most horrible examples of brutality,
the recent slaying of Emmett Till in Mississippi is a case
in point. The editors of look are convinced that they are
presenting here, for the first time, the real story of
that killing – the story no jury heard and no newspaper
Disclosed here is the true account of the
slaying in Mississippi of a Negro youth named Emmett Till.
Last September in Sumner, Miss., a petit jury
found the youth's admitted abductors not guilty of murder. In
November, in Greenwood, a grand jury declined to indict them for
Of the murder trial, the Memphis Commercial
Appeal said: "Evidence necessary for convicting on a
murder charge was lacking." But with truth absent, hypocrisy
and myth have flourished. Now, hypocrisy can be exposed; myth
dispelled. Here are the facts.
Carolyn Holloway Bryant is 21, five feet tall,
weighs 103 pounds. An Irish girl, with black hair and black eyes,
she is a small farmer's daughter who, at 17, quit high school at
Indianola, Miss., to marry a soldier, Roy Bryant, then 20, now 24.
The couple have two boys, three and two; and they operate a store
at a dusty crossroads called Money: post office, filling station
and three stores clustered around a school and a gin, and set in
the vast, lonely cotton patch that is the Mississippi Delta.
Carolyn and Roy Bryant are poor: no car, no TV.
They live in the back of the store which Roy's brothers helped set
up when he got out of the 82nd Airborne in 1953. They sell
"snuff-and-fatback" to Negro field hands on credit: and
they earn little because, for one reason, the government has been
giving the Negroes food they formerly bought.
Carolyn and Roy Bryant's social life is visits
to their families, to the Baptist church, and, whenever they can
borrow a car, to a drive-in, with the kids sleeping in the back
seat. They call Shane
the best picture they ever saw.
For extra money, Carolyn tends store when Roy
works outside -- like truck driving for a brother. And he has many
brothers. His mother had two husbands, 11 children. The first five
-- all boys -- were "Milam children"; the next six --
three boys, three girls -- were "Bryant children."
This is a lusty and devoted clan. They work,
fight, vote and play as a family. The "half" in their
fraternity is forgotten. For years, they have operated a chain of
cottonfield stores, as well as trucks and mechanical cotton
pickers. In relation to the Negroes, they are somewhat like white
traders in portions of Africa today; and they are determined to
resist the revolt of colored men against white rule.
On Wednesday evening, August 24, 1955, Roy was
in Texas, on a brother's truck. He had carted shrimp from New
Orleans to San Antonio, proceeded to Brownsville. Carolyn was
alone in the store. But back in the living quarters was her
sister-in-law Juanita Milam, 27, with her two small sons and
Carolyn's two. The store was kept open till 9 on week nights, 11
When her husband was away, Carolyn Bryant never
slept in the store, never stayed there alone after dark. Moreover,
in the Delta, no white woman ever travels country roads after dark
unattended by a man.
This meant that during Roy's absences --
particularly since he had no car -- there was family
inconvenience. Each afternoon, a sister-in-law arrived to stay
with Carolyn until closing time. Then, the two women, with their
children, waited for a brother-in-law to convoy them to his home.
Next morning, the sister-in-law drove Carolyn back.Juanita Milam had driven from her home in Glendora. She
had parked in front of the store to the left; and under
the front seat of this car was Roy Bryant's pistol, a .38
Colt automatic. Carolyn knew it was there. After 9,
Juanita's husband, J. W. Milam, would arrive in his pickup
to shepherd them to his home for the night.
About 7:30 pm, eight young Negroes -- seven
boys and a girl -- in a '46 Ford had stopped outside. They
included sons, grandsons and a nephew of Moses (Preacher) Wright,
64, a 'cropper. They were between 13 and 19 years old. Four were
natives of the Delta and others, including the nephew, Emmett (Bobo)
Till, were visiting from the Chicago area.
Bobo Till was 14 years old: born on July 25,
1941. He was stocky, muscular, weighing about 160, five feet four
or five. Preacher later testified: "He looked like a
Bobo's party joined a dozen other young
Negroes, including two other girls, in front of the store. Bryant
had built checkerboards there. Some were playing checkers, others
were wrestling and "kiddin' about girls."
Bobo bragged about his white girl. He showed
the boys a picture of a white girl in his wallet; and to their
jeers of disbelief, he boasted of success with her.
"You talkin' mighty big, Bo," one
youth said. "There's a pretty little white woman in the
store. Since you know how to handle white girls, let's see you go
in and get a date with her?"
"You ain't chicken, are yuh, Bo?"
another youth taunted him.
Bobo had to fire or fall back. He entered the
store, alone, stopped at the candy case. Carolyn was behind the
counter; Bobo in front. He asked for two cents' worth of bubble
gum. She handed it to him. He squeezed her hand and said:
"How about a date, baby?"
She jerked away and started for Juanita Milam.
At the break between counters, Bobo jumped in front of her,
perhaps caught her at the waist, and said: "You needn't be
afraid o' me, Baby. I been with white girls before."
At this point, a cousin ran in, grabbed Bobo
and began pulling him out of the store. Carolyn now ran, not for
Juanita, but out the front, and got the pistol from the Milam car.
Outside, with Bobo being ushered off by his
cousins, and with Carolyn getting the gun, Bobo executed the
"wolf whistle" which gave the case its name:
THE WOLF-WHISTLE MURDER: A NEGRO
"CHILD" OR "BOY" WHISTLED AT HER AND THEY
That was the sum of the facts on which most
newspaper readers based an opinion.
The Negroes drove away; and Carolyn,
shaken, told Juanita. The two women determined to keep the
incident from their "Men-folks."
They didn't tell J. W. Milam when he came to
escort them home.
By Thursday afternoon, Carolyn Bryant could see the
story was getting around. She spent Thursday night at the
Milams, where at 4 a.m. (Friday) Roy got back from Texas.
Since he had slept little for five nights, he went to bed
at the Milams' while Carolyn returned to the store.
During Friday afternoon, Roy reached the store,
and shortly thereafter a Negro told him what "the talk"
was, and told him that the "Chicago boy" was "visitin'
Preacher." Carolyn then told Roy what had happened.
Once Roy Bryant knew, in his environment, in
the opinion of most white people around him, for him to have done
nothing would have marked him for a coward and a fool.
On Friday night, he couldn't do anything. He
and Carolyn were alone, and he had no car. Saturday was collection
day, their busy day in the store. About 10:30 Saturday night, J.
W. Milam drove by. Roy took him aside.
"I want you to come over early in the
morning," he said. "I need a little
J.W. protested: "Sunday's the only morning
I can sleep. Can't we make it around noon?"
Roy then told him.
"I'll be there," he said.
J. W. drove to another brother's store at
Minter City, where he was working. He closed that store about
12:30 a.m., drove home to Glendora. Juanita was away, visiting her
folks at Greenville. J. W. had been thinking. He decided not to go
to bed. He pumped the pickup -- a half-ton '55 Chevrolet -- full
of gas and headed for Money.
J. W. "Big Milam" is 36: six feet
two, 235 pounds; an extrovert. Short boots accentuate his height;
khaki trousers; red sports shirt; sun helmet. Dark-visaged; his
lower lip curls when he chuckles; and though bald, his remaining
hair is jet-black.
He is slavery's plantation overseer. Today, he
rents Negro-driven mechanical cotton pickers to plantation owners.
Those who know him say that he can handle Negroes better than
anybody in the country.
Big Milam soldiered in the Patton manner. With
a ninth-grade education, he was commissioned in battle by the 75th
Division. He was an expert platoon leader, expert street fighter,
expert in night patrol, expert with the "grease gun,"
with every device for close range killing. A German bullet tore
clear through his chest; his body bears "multiple shrapnel
wounds." Of his medals, he cherishes one: combat
Big Milam, like many soldiers, brought home his
favorite gun: the .45 Colt automatic pistol.
"Best weapon the Army's got," he
says. "Either for shootin' or sluggin'."
Two hours after Big Milam got the word -- the
instant minute he could close the store -- he was looking for the
Big Milam reached Money a few minutes shy
of 2 a.m., Sunday, August 28. The Bryants were asleep; the store
was dark but for the all-night light. He rapped at the back door,
and when Roy came, he said: "Let's go. Let's make that trip
Roy dressed, brought a gun: this one was a .45
Colt. Both men were and remained -- cold sober. Big Milam had
drunk a beer at Minter City around 9; Roy had had nothing.
There was no moon as they drove to Preacher's
house: 2.8 miles east of Money.
Preacher's house stands 50 feet right of the
gravel road, with cedar and persimmon trees in the yard. Big Milam
drove the pickup in under the trees. He was bareheaded, carrying a
five-cell flashlight in his left hand, the .45 in the right.
Roy Bryant pounded on the door.
Preacher: "Who's that?"
Bryant: "Mr. Bryant from Money,
Preacher: "All right, sir. Just a
Preacher came out of the screened-in porch.
Bryant: "Preacher, you got a boy from
Bryant: "I want to talk to him."
Preacher: "Yessir. I'll get him."
Preacher led them to a back bedroom where four
youths were sleeping in two beds. In one was Bobo Till and Simeon
Wright, Preacher's youngest son. Bryant had told Preacher to turn
on the lights; Preacher had said they were out of order. So only
the flashlight was used.
The visit was not a complete surprise. Preacher
testified that he had heard of the "trouble," that he
"sho' had" talked to his nephew about it. Bobo himself
had been afraid; he had wanted to go home the day after the
incident. The Negro girl in the party urged that he leave.
"They'll kill him," she had warned. But Preacher's wife,
Elizabeth Wright, had decided that the danger was being magnified;
she had urged Bobo to "finish yo' visit."
"I thought they might say something to
him, but I didn't think they'd kill a boy," Preacher said.
Big Milam shined the light in Bobo's face,
said: "You the nigger who did the talking?"
"Yeah," Bobo replied.
Milam: "Don't say, 'Yeah' to me: I'll blow
your head off. Get your clothes on."
Bobo had been sleeping in his shorts. He pulled
on a shirt and trousers, then reached for his socks.
"Just the shoes," Milam hurried him.
"I don't wear shoes without socks,"
Bobo said: and he kept the gun-bearers waiting while he put on his
socks, then a pair of canvas shoes with thick crepe soles.
Preacher and his wife tried two arguments in
the boy's behalf.
"He ain't got good sense," Preacher
begged. "He didn't know what he was doing. Don't take
"I'll pay you gentlemen for the
damages," Elizabeth Wright said.
"You niggers go back to sleep," Milam
They marched him into the yard, told him to get
in the back of the pickup and lie down. He obeyed. They drove
Elizabeth Wright rushed to the home of a white
neighbor, who got up, looked around, but decided he could do
nothing. Then, she and Preacher drove to the home of her brother,
Crosby Smith, at Sumner; and Crosby Smith, on Sunday morning, went
to the sheriff's office at Greenwood.
The other young Negroes stayed at Preacher's
house until daylight, when Wheeler Parker telephoned his mother in
Chicago, who in turn notified Bobo's mother, Mamie Bradley, 33,
6427 S. St. Lawrence.
Had there been any doubt as to the identity of
the "Chicago boy who done the talking," Milam and Bryant
would have stopped at the store for Carolyn to identify him. But
there had been no denial. So they didn't stop at the store. At
Money, they crossed the Tallahatchie River and drove west.
Their intention was to "just whip
him... and scare some sense into him." And for this chore,
Big Milam knew "the scariest place in the Delta." He had
come upon it last year hunting wild geese. Over close to Rosedale,
the Big River bends around under a bluff. "Brother, she's a
100-foot sheer drop, and she's a 100 feet deep after you
Big Milam's idea was to stand him up there on
that bluff, "whip" him with the .45, and then shine the
light on down there toward that water and make him think you're
gonna knock him in.
"Brother, if that won't scare the Chicago
-------, hell won't."
Searching for this bluff, they drove close to
75 miles. Through Shellmound, Schlater, Doddsville, Ruleville,
Cleveland to the intersection south of Rosedale. There they turned
south on Mississippi No. 1, toward the entrance to Beulah Lake.
They tried several dirt and gravel roads, drove along the levee.
Finally, they gave up: in the darkness, Big Milam couldn't find
They drove back to Milam's house at Glendora,
and by now it was 5 a.m.. They had been driving nearly three
hours, with Milam and Bryant in the cab and Bobo lying in the
At some point when the truck slowed down, why
hadn't Bobo jumped and run? He wasn't tied; nobody was holding
him. A partial answer is that those Chevrolet pickups have a
wraparound rear window the size of a windshield. Bryant could
watch him. But the real answer is the remarkable part of the
Bobo wasn't afraid of them! He was tough as
they were. He didn't think they had the guts to kill him.
Milam: "We were never able to scare him.
They had just filled him so full of that poison that he was
Back of Milam's home is a tool house, with two
rooms each about 12 feet square. They took him in there and began
"whipping" him, first Milam then Bryant smashing him
across the head with those .45's. Pistol-whipping: a court-martial
offense in the Army... but MP's have been known to do it.... And
Milam got information out of German prisoners this way.
But under these blows Bobo never hollered—and he kept making the perfect speeches to insure martyrdom.
Bobo: "You bastards, I'm not afraid of
you. I'm as good as you are. I've 'had' white women. My
grandmother was a white woman."
Milam: "Well, what else could we do? He
was hopeless. I'm no bully; I never hurt a nigger in my life. I
like niggers— in their place—I know how to work 'em. But I
just decided it was time a few people got put on notice. As long
as I live and can do anything about it, niggers are gonna stay in
their place. Niggers ain't gonna vote where I live. If they did,
they'd control the government. They ain't gonna go to school with
my kids. And when a nigger gets close to mentioning sex with a
white woman, he's tired o' livin'. I'm likely to kill him. Me and
my folks fought for this country, and we got some rights. I stood
there in that shed and listened to that nigger throw that poison
at me, and I just made up my mind. 'Chicago boy,' I said, 'I'm
tired of 'em sending your kind down here to stir up trouble.
Goddam you, I'm going to make an example of you -- just so
everybody can know how me and my folks stand.'"
So Big Milam decided to act. He needed a
weight. He tried to think of where he could get an anvil. Then he
remembered a gin which had installed new equipment. He had seen
two men lifting a discarded fan, a metal fan three feet high and
circular, used in ginning cotton.
Bobo wasn't bleeding much. Pistol-whipping
bruises more than it cuts. They ordered him back in the truck and
headed west again. They passed through Doddsville, went into the
Progressive Ginning Company. This gin is 3.4 miles east of Boyle:
Boyle is two miles south of Cleveland. The road to this gin turns
left off U.S. 61, after you cross the bayou bridge south of Boyle.
Milam: "When we got to that gin, it was
daylight, and I was worried for the first time. Somebody might see
us and accuse us of stealing the fan."
Bryant and Big Milam stood aside while Bobo
loaded the fan. Weight: 74 pounds. The youth still thought they
They drove back to Glendora, then north toward
Swan Lake and crossed the "new bridge" over the
Tallahatchie. At the east end of this bridge, they turned right,
along a dirt road which parallels the river. After about two
miles, they crossed the property of L.W. Boyce, passing near his
About 1.5 miles southeast of the Boyce home is
a lonely spot where Big Milam has hunted squirrels. The river bank
is steep. The truck stopped 30 yards from the water.
Big Milam ordered Bobo to pick up the fan.
He staggered under its weight... carried it to
the river bank. They stood silently... just hating one another.
Milam: "Take off your clothes."
Slowly, Bobo pulled off his shoes, his socks.
He stood up, unbuttoned his shirt, dropped his pants, his shorts.
He stood there naked.
It was Sunday morning, a little before 7.
Milam: "You still as good as I am?"
Milam: "You still 'had' white women?"
That big .45 jumped in Big Milam's hand. The youth
turned to catch that big, expanding bullet at his right
ear. He dropped.
They barb-wired the gin fan to his neck, rolled
him into 20 feet of water.
For three hours that morning, there was a fire
in Big Milam's back yard: Bobo's crepe soled shoes were hard to
Seventy-two hours later -- eight miles
downstream -- boys were fishing. They saw feet sticking out of the
The majority -- by no means all, but the
majority -- of the white people in Mississippi 1) either approve
Big Milam's action or else 2) they don't disapprove enough to risk
giving their "enemies" the satisfaction of a conviction
* * *
Letter to Life Editor
...The Shocking Story of Approved Killing in
Mississippi (By William Bradford Huie, Look
January 24) is a magnificent piece of journalism...The article did
something very valuable about this case. For us, the public, whose
hearts were torn by it, this article took the sinisterness out of
this thing; by holding it up to truth, we saw all these people in
three dimensions: We could see how the men acting out of their own
background could do this thing and feel justified; and we saw the
boy, acting out of his convictions too. It also made the women
appear more decent; after all they had tried indeed to keep the
news of the incident away from their men -- they were not sadistic
trouble makers, as the newspapers had given the impression...The
man who wrote the article must be a wonderful reporter. Many, many
New York, New York
* * *
The Face of Emmett Till
by Big Tex—So
I lived in southern Mississippi. Emmett
Till, this 14-year old black boy, who'd gone
to Tallahatchie County, Money, Mississippi
in the Delta, to visit his great uncle for
summer holiday, from Chicago, was lynched.
And as a child of 12, I can not remember
having felt more vulnerable, more
frightened, more—but at the same time more
angry. And I can remember my 12-year old
anger very, very much.And when I met people
like Judy and SNCC in 1962, '63, all of us
remembered the photograph of Emmett Till's
face, lying in the coffin, on the cover of
Jet Magazine. [...] And when I met
Mrs. Mamie Bradley, Emmett Till's mother,
many years later, I asked her, "Why did you
not have the undertaker do some cosmetic
work on his face?" And her response was
that, "I wanted the world to see what they
did to my baby."—
Confessions of the
Killers of Emmett Till
You know, I remember in
interviewing people in the course of doing [Eyes on
the Prize] that it was not only young black people
who spoke about Till, but young white people as well,
who had the idea that this is someone our age, you know,
a pre-teen really, or young teen, and if you can see
that happening to a young black child down in
Mississippi, it's not only black kids who say, ‘Well,
it's not that I can't be the teacher or nurse, but if
they kill people, this is serious," and that young white
people also said, "If they're killing people, it's not
just a matter of some folks don't like colored people,
this is horrible, and this can't be allowed to go on.
I've got to do something about this.”—Juan
* * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
* * * *
Emmett Till and Dr Kings Memorial.—by
Eddie Glaude, Jr..—Emmett
Till was murdered on August 28, 1955. They found his
body horribly mangled at the bottom of the Tallahatchie
River with a cotton gin fan tied around his neck with
barbed wire. Till had dared to break one of the sacred
rules of the Jim Crow South. He "flirted" with a white
woman. He was only fourteen years old.
mother, Mamie Till Mobley, decided to have an
open-casket funeral. She wanted everyone to see what
they had done to "her baby." The Chicago Defender
reported that over "250,000 people viewed and passed by
the bier of little Emmett Till . . . All were shocked,
some horrified and appalled. Many prayed, scores fainted
and practically all, men, women and children wept."
On September 15th,
1955 Jet Magazine published, unedited, the images of
Emmett Till. Black America was stunned. For some, this
was the first visual image of the brutality of American
racism. For others, the dead body of Till only confirmed
the disease at the heart of the United States. America
was sick. And Emmett Till was to become the sacrificial
lamb, which sparked the modern Civil Rights Movement
that sought to heal the nation.
What did Mamie Till
Mobley want us to see when she decided to leave open her
baby's coffin? What was she memorializing at that
moment? Obviously, her decision called attention to the
brutality of American racism. But I am convinced that
she wanted to make visible all of those victims of
American hatred who remained invisible. The nameless
black bodies that lined the bottom of the Tallahatchie
River and the spirits that were defeated daily by the
systemic and dehumanizing experience of white supremacy
were all captured in the brutally disfigured face of a
murdered fourteen-year old boy. Perhaps she wanted that
image to haunt the nation -- to force us to remember
those who reside in the shadows. Those images defined a
generation. And they, at least for me, continue to
On the exact same
day, eight years later, an estimated 250,000 people
engaged in an historic demonstration before the Lincoln
Memorial for civil rights and economic justice. And it
was here that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his
famous "I Have a Dream" speech. In some ways, that
speech stands as a third "founding" of the nation. Just
as President Lincoln's second inaugural offered a
revision of the revolutionary beginnings of America, Dr.
King's words expanded the very idea of American
democracy in which the promises of freedom and justice
would be extended to its entire people..—HuffingtonPost
* * *
Death of Emmett Till
By Bob Dylan
'Twas down in
Mississippi not so long ago,
When a young boy from Chicago town walked
This boy's fateful tragedy you should all
The color of his skin was black and his name
was Emmett Till.
Some men they dragged him to a barn and
there they beat him up.
They said they had a reason, but I
They tortured him and did some things too
There was screaming sounds inside the barn,
laughing sounds out on the street.
Then they rolled his body down a gulf amidst
a blood-red rain
And they threw him in the waters wide to
The reason that they killed him there, and
I'm sure it
ain’t no lie,
He was a Black skin boy so he was born to
And then to stop the United States of
yelling for a trial,
Two brothers they confessed that they had
But on the jury there were men who helped
commit this awful crime,
And so this trial was a mockery, but nobody
seemed to mind.
I saw the morning papers but I could not
bear to see
The smiling brothers walkin' down the
For the jury found them innocent and the
brothers they went free,
While Emmett's body still floats the foam of
a Jim Crow southern sea.
If you can't speak out against this kind of
thing, a crime
that's so unjust,
Your eyes are filled with dead men's dirt,
your mind is
filled with dust.
Your arms and legs they must be in shackles
and chains, and
your blood it must cease to flow,
For you let this human race fall down so
This song is just a reminder to remind your
That this kind of thing still lives today in
ghost-robed Ku Klux Klan.
But if all us folks that thinks alike, if we
gave all we
We could make this great land of ours a
greater place to live.
* * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
* * *
Till’S Glass-Top Casket
By the time
they cracked me open again, topside,
abandoned in a toolshed, I had become
another kind of nest. Not many people
connect possums with Chicago,
but this is where the city ends,
after all, and I float still, after the
footfalls fade and the roots bloom around
us. The fact was, everything that
worked for my young man
worked for my
new tenants. The fact was, he had been gone
for years. They lifted him from my embrace,
and I was empty, ready. That’s how the
possums found me, friend,
tattered mercy hull. Once I held a boy who
didn’t look like a boy. When they finally
remembered, they peeked through my clear
top. Then their wild surprise.
April 5, 2010
* * *
Emmett Till Blues
By Al Young
What they use to just do and just done it to
they doing it directly to all yall now,
and doing it and doing it to the world.
Shoot and cut and smash my head in,
take me to the river, sink me down –
you call that religion? Yeah, yeah!
It hadn’t of been for my mother bring
my busted body back up to Chicago and let
Jet get pictures for the world to look at,
nobody would of known. I’m long time gone.
Nowadays wouldn’t be no way I’d get to say
this on television, no way yall would even
a picture of me. Do yall even know who this
talking to you? This is Emmett Till. I died
and died and died. Soon as yall figured
America was saved, here come Guantánamo
and Abu Ghraib. Here come greed and
here come grief. The Thief of Baghdad
make they own commandments. Geronimo,
wouldn’t of paid them no mind. What you
they might pull next?
Talk to me. I been done died.
* * *
Bill Moyers Interviews Douglass A. Blackmon
Douglas A. Blackmon,
Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black
Americans from the Civil War to World War II (2008)
* * * *
Strange Fruit Lynching Report
Anniversary of a Lynching
McGhee Lynching /
My Grandfather's Execution
Dr. Robert Lee Interview
African American dentist in Ghana
* * *
* * *
1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus
By Charles C. Mann
a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous
New Revelations of the Americas Before
Columbus, in which he
provides a sweeping and provocative
examination of North and South America
prior to the arrival of Christopher
Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched
but so wonderfully written that it’s
anything but exhausting to read. With
1493, Mann has taken it to a
new, truly global level. Building on the
groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby
The Columbian Exchange and, I’m
proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer),
Mann has written nothing less than the
story of our world: how a planet of what
were once several autonomous continents
is quickly becoming a single,
Mann not only talked to countless
scientists and researchers; he visited
the places he writes about, and as a
consequence, the book has a marvelously
wide-ranging yet personal feel as we
follow Mann from one far-flung corner of
the world to the next. And always, the
prose is masterful. In telling the
improbable story of how Spanish and
Chinese cultures collided in the
Philippines in the sixteenth century, he
takes us to the island of Mindoro whose
“southern coast consists of a number of
small bays, one next to another like
tooth marks in an apple.”
We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato,
tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have
disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue
to do so until we are finally living on one
integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth.
Whether or not the human instigators of all this
remarkable change will survive the process they
helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago
remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and
revelatory book, an open question.
* * *
Forged: Writing in the Name of God
Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are
By Bart D. Ehrman
The evocative title tells it all and hints at the tone of sensationalism that pervades this book. Those familiar with the earlier work of Ehrman, a distinguished professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and author of more than 20 books including Misquoting Jesus, will not be surprised at the content of this one. Written in a manner accessible to nonspecialists, Ehrman argues that many books of the New Testament are not simply written by people other than the ones to whom they are attributed, but that they are deliberate forgeries. The word itself connotes scandal and crime, and it appears on nearly every page. Indeed, this book takes on an idea widely accepted by biblical scholars: that writing in someone else's name was common practice and perfectly okay in ancient times. Ehrman argues that it was not even then considered acceptable—hence, a forgery.
While many readers
may wish for more evidence of the charge, Ehrman's introduction to the arguments and debates among different religious communities during the first few centuries and among the early Christians themselves, though not the book's main point, is especially valuable.—Publishers Weekly /
Forged Bart Ehrman’s New Salvo (
* * *
A Wreath for Emmett Till
By Marilyn Nelson; Illustrated by
This memorial to
the lynched teen is in the Homeric
tradition of poet-as-historian. It is a
heroic crown of sonnets in Petrarchan
rhyme scheme and, as such, is quite
formal not only in form but in language.
There are 15 poems in the cycle, the
last line of one being the first line of
the next, and each of the first lines
makes up the entirety of the 15th. This
chosen formality brings distance and
reflection to readers, but also calls
attention to the horrifically ugly
events. The language is highly
figurative in one sonnet, cruelly
graphic in the next. The illustrations
echo the representative nature of the
poetry, using images from nature and
taking advantage of the emotional
quality of color. There is an
introduction by the author, a page about
Emmett Till, and literary and poetical
footnotes to the sonnets.
The artist also gives detailed reasoning behind
his choices. This underpinning information makes this a full
experience, eminently teachable from several aspects, including
historical and literary—School
Library Journal /
Winner of 2012 Frost Medal /
Murders of Till
Carver: A Life
* * *
Incognegro: A Memoir of
Exile and Apartheid
B. Wilderson III
Wilderson, a professor,
writer and filmmaker from
presents a gripping account
of his role in the downfall
of South African apartheid
as one of only two black
Americans in the African
National Congress (ANC).
After marrying a South
African law student,
returns with her to South
Africa in the early 1990s,
where he teaches
Johannesburg and Soweto
students, and soon joins the
military wing of the ANC.
portrait of Nelson Mandela
as a petulant elder eager to
accommodate his white
countrymen will jolt readers
who've accepted the
usually accorded him. After
the assassination of
Mandela's rival, South
African Communist Party
leader Chris Hani, Mandela's
regime deems Wilderson's
public questions a threat to
national security; soon,
having lost his stomach for
the cause, he returns to
Wilderson has a
distinct, powerful voice and
a strong story that shuffles
between the indignities of
Johannesburg life and his
early years in Minneapolis,
the precocious child of
academics who barely
tolerate his emerging
about love within and across
the color line and cultural
divides are as provocative
as his politics; despite
digressions, this is a
riveting memoir of
apartheid's last days.—Publishers
* * *
The Prophet of Zongo Street
Stories by Mohammed Naseehu Ali
images of African life and familiar snippets of expatriate
life infuse this debut collection by a Ghana-born writer and
musician. On the fictional Zongo Street in Accra, young
children gather around their grandmother to hear a creation
story from "the time of our ancestors' ancestors' ancestors"
in "The Story of Day and Night." In "Mallam Sille," a weak,
46-year-old virgin tea seller finds soulful strength in
marriage to a dominant village woman. Other stories take
place in and around New York City, depicting immigrants
struggling with American culture and values. A Ghanaian
caregiver vows not to "grow old in this country" in
"Live-In," while in "The True Aryan," an African musician
and an Armenian cabbie competitively compare tragic cultural
histories on the ride from Manhattan to Brooklyn, achieving
humanist understanding as they reach Park Slope:
"I looked into his eyes, and with a sudden deep
respect said to the man, 'I'll take your pain, too.'
" Several stories close in a similarly magical,
almost folkloric epiphany, as when sleep becomes an
attempt "to bring calm to the pulsing heart of Man"
in "The Manhood Test." Ali speaks melodiously but
not always provocatively in these tales of
transition and emigration.—Publishers
* * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
If you like this page consider making a donation
* * * * *
Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
* * * * *
* * *
(Books, DVDs, Music, and more)
6 February 2012