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The Murder of Emmett Till

A Graphic History

Karlos Hill and Dave Dodson

Publication Date - 24 July 2020

ISBN: 9780190216016

192 pages
7 x 10 inches

In Stock


Incorporating the latest research, The Murder of Emmett Till is the first text to present this shocking crime--which still powerfully reverberates--in a graphic history format. Historian Karlos Hill and illustrator Dave Dodson provide a riveting narration of the events surrounding the murder of young Emmett Till in a graphic format. Hill's meticulous research provides readers with both the context to place the crime in its wider historical setting and the primary sources to analyze the case in detail. Suggestions for how to effectively use the graphic history in the classroom make The Murder of Emmett Till an ideal text for courses in American and African American history.


  • The first graphic history of the Emmett Till murder, an incident that still reverberates in American history
  • The graphic history format engages students with a vivid and powerful narrative
  • Written in concise, accessible language that is ideal for undergraduates
  • Includes a historical context essay, primary sources, suggestions for further research, discussion questions, and advice for teachers on how to effectively use the graphic history in the classroom
  • Introduces students to the practice of history and the types of methods historians use to construct the past
  • Engages the reader with a timely discussion of violence and white supremacy, racism and criminal justice, memory and social movements
  • ideal text for courses in US History and African American History

About the Author(s)

Karlos K. Hill is Associate Professor and Chair of the Clara Luper Department of African and African-American Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Hill is author of Beyond the Rope: The Impact of Lynching on Black Culture and Memory (Cambridge University Press, 2016) and is completing a forthcoming book on the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Dr. Hill was featured in Netflix's Devil at the Crossroads documentary on the life of blues musician Robert Johnson. He serves on the Clara Luper Legacy Committee, the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, and the Facing History and Ourselves Board of Scholars.

Dave Dodson is a freelance artist based in California.


"Karlos Hill's graphic history of the murder of Emmett Till brims with energy. The graphic rendering brings the 60-year-old story into the present. The illustrations cut through the decades, revive the intimacy and horror of the distant story, and remind us that the racism that killed Till is still very much alive. At the same time, the extended critical context keeps the graphic history anchored firmly in fact. Moving between poignant illustrations and incisive commentary, Hill's The Murder of Emmett Till: A Graphic History just may become the go-to text for a new generation of students."--Dave Tell, University of Kansas, author of Remembering Emmett Till

"The strength of this book is the depth and scope in which it explores the Till case. Students and other readers who are familiar and unfamiliar with the text will come away from it learning something new about the Till family, the whistling incident, the murder, and the trial."--Ashley D. Farmer, University of Texas, Austin

"The tragic story of Emmett Till riveted American freedom movements to bold new strategies fifteen years after his death at the hands of white terrorists in Mississippi. As brilliantly captured in this engaging graphic history, that story will rivet your attention as well. The book is drawn with spare beauty, narrated with simple power, and accompanied by an authoritative historical essay on the eventful times in which the Chicago teenager lived, died, and was stirringly remembered. This is a perfect book for so many college courses and will surely be read eagerly outside of them as well."--David Roediger, University of Kansas, author of How Race Survived U.S. History

"Karlos Hill's graphic history is painfully accurate. It shows how the murder of Emmett Till helped to dramatically change the political and social norms of the United States in a relatively short period of time."--Eric R. Jackson, Northern Kentucky University

"This text is timely in terms of its genre and historical content. It addresses the false accusation made by Bryant, and the nuance of Bobo's personality as a prankster. History presented in this way will reach a broad audience."--Angela Flounory, University of Michigan-Dearborn

Table of Contents

    List of Maps

    Part I. The Graphic History
    1. The Whistling Incident
    2. The Kidnapping
    3. The Murder
    4. The Trial and Aftermath

    Part II. The Historical Context
    The Mississippi Delta and the Culture of Southern Segregation
    Lynching and Racial Violence in the South
    The Great Migration
    Civil Rights Activism in Mississippi
    Massive Resistance
    The Decision to Travel to Mississippi
    The Whistling Incident
    The Kidnapping and Murder
    Emmett Till's Open Casket Funeral
    The Emmett Till Murder Trial and Jim Crow Justice
    Look Magazine and The Shocking Story of an Approved Killing
    The Historical and Contemporary Significance of the Emmett Till Murder

    Part III. The Documents
    Document Overview
    1. Photo of Emmett Till
    2. Photo of Emmett Till's Open Casket
    3. Photo of Mamie Till at Emmett Till Burial
    4. Two White Men Charged with Kidnapping Negro (Delta Democrat-Times, August 30, 1955)
    5. Muddy River Gives up Body of Brutally Slain Negro Boy (Memphis Commercial Appeal, September 1, 1955)
    6. Designed to Inflame (Jackson Daily News, September 2, 1955)
    7. Meddling in Local Case Creates Problems (Greenwood Morning Star, September 6, 1955)
    8. Mother's Tears Greet Son Who Died a Martyr (Mattie Smith Colin, Chicago Defender, Sept 10, 1955)
    9. Nation Shocked, Vow Action in Lynching of Chicago Youth (Chicago Defender, September 10, 1955)
    10. Thousands At Rites for Till (Robert Elliott, Chicago Defender, September 10, 1955)
    11. Emmett Till Murder Trial Transcript, Direct and Cross Examination of Mamie Till
    12. Emmett Till Murder Trial Transcript, Direct Examination of Carolyn Bryant
    13. Fair Trial Was Credit to Mississippi (Greenwood Morning Star, September 23, 1955)
    14. Till's Mom, iggs Both Disappointed (Mattie Smith Colin, Chicago Defender, October 1, 1955)
    15. Excerpt of The Shocking Story of Approved Killing in Mississippi (William Bradford Huie, Look Magazine, January 24, 1956)
    16. Mamie Bradley's Untold Story, Installment VIII (Mrs. Mamie Bradley, Chicago Defender, June 9, 1956)

    Part IV. Conclusion
    Further Reading
    Questions for Discussion and Further Research
    The Emmett Till Murder: A Timeline
    Lynching and Racial Violence in American History: A Timeline
    Using Emmett Till: A Graphic History in the Classroom

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