Professor Of History, David Beethoven, Tuscaloosa discussed on KTAR Programming


To be talking about the Justice department reopening an inquiry into the murder of, Emmett till that investigation to be discussed with us, tonight by, David Beethoven research fellow at, the, independent institute a. Professor of history at the university of. Alabama Tuscaloosa. Co 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 that, 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 is 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 helped them out was hard work but he came every year well one year he he came, until and 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, and talk tour we don't know what he said it wasn't anything you know might have been something as simple as he you know he ended money tour directly rather than put it put it on. The counter, who knows exactly what happened some people say that he gave a wolf whistle when he left but yeah we. P, p e left well, word got around someone passed the message to. The husband of this woman behind the counter he he. Was offended by it he went by to his brother who. Was a real tough me character and said you know what do 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 Tallahassee river but just through some fate basically, there was 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 them. Into, the bottom of the river but it's snag like I said a fisherman 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 have taken we wouldn't have taken that. Long we, haven't gone, out to get some pop so that's the, a rougher you the story. But there's a lot more, to it than that Of course. There's a reason why it isn't. In 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 It, was and it was on the eve of the civil rights. Movement, well they're always have been civil rights more was on the eve of the. Movement we associate with Martin Luther King in played 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 now were it was a conspiracy there were more, than two people involved that has been shown, 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 who's still alive, was involved they say of course the Justice delayed is Justice deferred this particular case while I. Certainly of academic 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 on that she was interviewed by historian named Timothy Tyson who did extensive interviews with, her and actually you know had some interesting. Things to say about black. Friends she had ad is 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 did get that part on tape. So it's 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 in the evenings evidence the, FBI needs evidence but I think that's why the case was reopened, because of, that 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 oppress on the cover of jet magazine, and Chicago defender so people like Mohammed Ali if you're a young black. Person at that time you good chance you saw. Those. Photos in, it at, a, big. Impact I have seen, the photos they they're pretty gruesome okay I mean there's no 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 it 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 you know 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 hadn't gone out for soda. Pop so, again I'm not exactly sure quite what Is. I guess, to be to be accomplished here Baby I 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 the state at which this happened today has the highest number, of elected officials have, 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 they're. 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 we ever Pretty pretty good idea what happened pretty good idea who was involved so. That is been incredible, useful now, that we have a bigger picture of. What. Actually happened there and the cover up, that did occur at the time the sheriff local law enforcement and others One eight six six five zero 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 Izzy co author of the book TRM Howard doctor entrepreneur and the civil. Rights pioneer and we'll come back and talk some more.

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