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Publisher Lowers Emmett Till eBook Price to 99 cents; ‘It’s Time For More People To Know This Story,’ Author Says
“After you read [Who Killed Emmett Till?], the events will live in your heart and mind too, because [Klopfer] makes it come alive. This is highly recommended.” Max G. Bernard, author of Another Place, Another Time
A new price of 99 cents(USD) for the eBook version of Who Killed Emmett Till? has been announced by author Susan Klopfer.
The 14-year-old Chicago school boy’s August 1955 murder became a rallying point for the modern civil rights movement in the United States and was a factor in moving Rosa Parks to take her stand to sit at the front of a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama later in December.
The 56th anniversary of young Till’s death who was born July 25, 1941 in Chicago, Ill. and murdered on Aug. 28, 1955 in Money, Miss. is the reason behind the decision, Klopfer said.
“Too many people still do not know this story. Now they can easily download it on their computers, iPhones, digital book readers and learn what happened, why and how this relates to the modern civil rights movement.”
The eBook is available for 99 cents on the Smashwords.com website specifically at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/8175.
Who Killed Emmett Till? is also available in print format and is available on Amazon and most other major online bookstores.
Till was born to working-class parents on the South Side of Chicago. “When he was only 14 years old, he went by train into rural Mississippi to visit with relatives. His mother knew he didn’t always mind and liked to play tricks, so she warned him not to do so in Mississippi, that white people were less acustomed to black people speaking out.
“Emmett’s mother told him that he would need to keep his mouth closed and not speak to white people first. She had not been into the South for some time; she was actually born there and had some clashes herself with Jim Crow, state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965 that mandated de jure racial segregation in all public facilities.
“Further, some of Emmett’s friends had been back to the region to visit their relatives and had not had problems.”
But the South was in an uproar over the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision (in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka), which overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine established in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) that allowed racial segregation in public facilities.
Klopfer tells the story that Till was accompanied to Mississippi on the train with his great-uncle, Moses Wright. His grandfather was a sharecropper, and Till spent his first days helping with the cotton harvest and household chores.
“He wasn’t used to hard labor, so after the first day in the cotton fields, he was sent back to the Wright home to help his aunt tend the family garden and do household chores.”
On August 24, Till and a group of other teens went to a local grocery store after a day of working in the fields, some witnesses stated that one of the other boys dared Till to talk to the store’s cashier, Carolyn Bryant, a white woman. Reportedly, Till then whistled at, touched the hand or waist of, or flirted with the woman as he was leaving the store.
Klopfer said that when researching the Till story she met one of Till’s cousins who confirmed that Till really whistled at Carolyn Bryant. Yet, other relatives have disagreed.
“Whatever the truth, no one told his great-uncle about the incident, and in the early morning hours of August 28, Roy Bryant, the cashier’s husband, and J.W. Milam, Bryant’s half brother, forced their way into Wright’s home and kidnapped Till at gunpoint.”
Emmett Till was severely beaten and taken to the banks of the Tallahatchie River, near Glendora, upriver from Money, where he was killed with a single gunshot to the head, according to official accounts. The two men tied the teen’s body to a large metal fan with a length of barbed wire before dumping the corpse into the river.
“When his body arrived back home in Chicago, there were photographs in the pages of Jet magazine and the Chicago Defender, and his murder became a rallying point for the civil rights movement,” Klopfer said.
The trial of Till’s killers began on Sept. 19, 1955, and from the witness stand Wright identified the men who had kidnapped Till. After four days of testimony and a little more than an hour of deliberation, an all-white, all-male jury (at the time, blacks and women were not allowed to serve as jurors in Mississippi) acquitted Bryant and Milam of all charges.
Protected from further prosecution by double jeopardy statutes, the pair was paid for the story and interviewed by their lawyer and a journalist in a 1956 article for Look magazine in which they admitted to Till’s kidnapping and murder.
Klopfer said her eBook, Who Killed Emmett Till, brings a fresh look. “I lived in the Mississippi Delta where this event took place and had the opportunity to visit important sites and speak to people who were living there at the time.
“I was able to track down the funeral home employee who cared for Till’s body before it was sent home, for instance, and his story was riveting.”
Klopfer said she remains amazed at how many people simply have never learned about this story, despite its significance in the civil rights movement.
“The story of Emmett Till is still not being taught in many schools, and this is a shame. It is so important to know about this child, since the story truly represents the violence of what went on in this country before and during the great changes that have come.
“Too many people died as we went through this period. It is history that must not be forgotten or hidden.”
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Klopfer’s eBook was recently reviewed by author Max G. Bernard who gave it high marks: “Klopfer explains the history, demands justice, talks with some of those still alive who, as she says, ‘still had the story fresh in their hearts and minds.’ After you read this book, the events will live in your heart and mind too, because she makes it come alive. This is highly recommended.”
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Who Killed Emmett Till? is also available in print form at Amazon.
99 cent eBook version available at Smashwords. Click Here.