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Ongoing violence against Emmett Till’s memory demands action, professor says

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

LAWRENCE – If President Donald Trump wants to do something to promote racial reconciliation, he could use the upcoming 63rd anniversary of the murder of black teenager Emmett Till by white racists in Mississippi (Aug. 28) to name the sites associated with Till’s martyrdom a national monument.

So says Dave Tell, University of Kansas professor of communication studies, in an op-ed column in the Aug. 9 Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, Sun-Sentinel newspaper. Tell is also the author of “Remembering Emmett Till” (University of Chicago Press), a forthcoming book that explains the enduring myths of the murder that touched off the civil rights movement and how four communities in the Mississippi Delta have coped with its legacy.

Tell’s op-ed was occasioned by the ongoing vandalism that has plagued efforts to commemorate the Till murder in the Mississippi Delta. As Tell explains in the piece, the latest marker was only “35 days unshot.”

As a consultant and grant writer for the grassroots Emmett Till Memorial Commission, Tell is leading the charge to create a new form of Till commemoration. Rather than erecting physical signs that will be vandalized, Tell is the founder of the Emmett Till Memory Project, which uses a GPS-enabled smartphone app — “a form of remembrance that can neither be stolen nor shot.”

To interview Dave Tell about the latest episode of violence against the memory of Emmett Till, or his ideas for passing on the story, please contact KU News Service Public Affairs Officer Rick Hellman, 785-864-8852 or rick_hellman@ku.edu.