David Beethoven, Professor Of History, Emmett discussed on
Jimbohannonshow, dot com you can follow me on Twitter at, jimbotalks says tonight we're gonna be talking about the Justice department reopening an inquiry into the murder of Emmett till let investigate should be discussed with, us tonight by David Beethoven research fellow at the independent. Institute a professor of history at the, university of Alabama. Tuscaloosa Biko author of TRM Howard doctor. Entrepreneur and civil rights pioneer good evening Mr. Beethoven's good evening, tell us if for those who are not the imminently familiar I think most of us can remember the name of of. Immaterial and, it had to do with a terrible racial injustice and frankly that's probably about as far as most of us. Get in. Terms of of just exactly what the name implies Well it's a. Long story so I'll give you the bare bones, version Emmett till was a fourteen, year, old boy from, Chicago, this, was, a nineteen. Fifty five and every summer or. So he would come to Mississippi to visit his, great uncle who lived on a cotton plantation and, was picking cotton and he'd help them out was hard work but he came every year well one year he he came and until a bunch, of friends went to a store crossroads store and there, was a beautiful white woman behind the, counter and we. Don't know exactly what happened but I. Think the friends sorta dared him to go in there and, talk to her we don't know what he said it wasn't anything you know might have been something as simple as he. You know, he handed money tour directly rather than put it you know put it on the counter who knows exactly what Happened some. People say that he gave a wolf whistle when he. Left but yeah well he he left well word got around. Someone passed the message to the husband of this woman behind the counter he he was offended by he went, by to his brother who was a real, tough me character and said. You, know what I do and his brothers said you got to get revenge and so they kidnap, till the middle of the night and he apparently did, not satisfy them they they you know. They were going to beat him up maybe but he didn't satisfy them so they took. Them around they beat him severely. And then eventually they killed him they dumped him in the Tallahassee river, but just, through some fate basically there was a it snagged, on a, vine underneath he was tied, to a cotton gin Old cotton big big things, hope was to conceal, their crime to get him. Into the bottom of the river but it snagged like I said a fishermen sought the body. Was horribly, horribly disfigured, the two brothers admitted that they take until, they claim they let him. Go but they were charged, with murder put on trial and acquitted in less than. An hour and the jury joked member, of the jury joke that, we, would've taken we wouldn't have taken that long we. Hadn't gone out to get some. Pop So that's the. Rough version of the story but. There's a lot more to it than that Of course there's a reason why. It isn't the immediate familiarity with most Americans. In that it took place sixty three years. Ago this was nineteen fifty-five that this took place Yes correct It was and it was on the eve of the civil. Rights, movement well they're always have been civil rights was on the eve of. The movement we associate with Martin Luther King and played a big role. In spurring that? Movement, on In in any event certainly a lot. Of time has passed I'm not even sure how many of the defendants are still alive The only. One that I know of and there were it was a conspiracy there were more than, two people involved that has been shown the, only possible, person to charge that I. Know of is the wife that you. Know pretty lady that was behind the counter Juanita Juanita Bryant Donna Was in her eighties I frankly don't think, that will, happen But that is the only person that. Could possibly be, charged at, this point is still alive, involved will they say of course the Justice. Delayed is Justice deferred is particular case While I certainly find it of economic interest to find out what actually, took place I'm not sure what the purpose of this particular investigation is given as you say that. The wheels of, Justice apparently, don't have a lot of, targets to turn toward Well I. Had a little bit of an idea that she was interviewed by story in named Timothy Tyson who did extensive interviews with her, and actually you know had. Some interesting things to say about, black French she added a child and various things like that but one of the things she, said to him was sort of admitted that she was knew. About the crime and so forth had some involvement in, it but then when that was they've they've looked at that now, and it, is historian has hours of interview with her on tape but he didn't get that part. On tape just his word so I just don't see her being prosecuted because it you know if she did say he didn't get it and he you know he You know, and he, needs The FBI needs evidence but I think that's why the case, was reopened, because of that All right one eight six six five o.. JIMBO is our number one eight six six five zero five four six two six. It it did of course staggered the the nation at the time If you were around that time. You may recall that, the the boy had an open coffin Funeral I think that, was at the insistence of the mother if I'm not mistaken To. To let the world, see what they did to, my boy, something of that nature and. Although the the the photographs got widespread publication but they're they're out there and They got a, lot of play, in the black oppressed on the cover of jet magazine. And, the Chicago defender so people like Mohammed Ali if. You're. A young, black person at. That time you good chance you saw those photos and it had a big impact I I have seen the photos they they're pretty gruesome okay I, mean there's, no no getting around that fact and the the open cashier was probably something that was was worth doing not just to quote, for the shock value. As much I guess, as to to make manifest, what had, actually happened to immaterial Now the. Justice. Department has, not commented on. All of this but, it appears that the government chose to devote new attention to the case after the central with us as you mentioned Carolyn Bryant, Donham recanted, part of her account of what actually happened at that time Again I think the facts at the time pretty much spoke for themselves when when the the person on the jury said that we wouldn't have taken a whole hour to. Acquit we had gone out for a soda. Pop so, again I'm not exactly sure quite what Is. I guess, to be to be accomplished here Baby grant we, should not forget part of our our terrible past but there aren't a whole lot of of lynchings cross. Burnings in the like taking place these days Mississippi the state in which this happened today has the the highest number, of elected officials of, color in the entire country not. Just per capita but the the the highest number so perhaps this might. Have had greater importance that had been brought forward let's. Say in nineteen sixty five or nineteen seventy five then in two thousand eighteen you're nineteen fifty five when people like Howard written about and others were pointing out that the evidence was that there. Were more than two people involved and so forth and I think. You. Know that was the time to do, it now I will. Say this several years ago the FBI did reopen the investigation uncovered a lot of material And we have a pretty pretty good idea what happened pretty good idea who was involved so that is. Been incredibly useful now that, we have a bigger picture of what. Actually. Happened there and the cover up the, did occur at the time sheriff local law enforcement and others Yep Eight six six five o. JIMBO our number one eight six six five zero five four six two. Six we're talking with David. Beethoven he's a research fellow at the independent, institute a professor of history of the university of. Alabama. Tuscaloosa the is co author of the book TRM Howard doctor entrepreneur and the civil rights pioneer and we'll come back and talk some more.