SPARTANBURG, S.C. – In 1955, a 14-year-old black boy from Chicago named Emmett Till, while visiting relatives in the Mississippi Delta, violated racial taboos in a harmless exchange with a young white storekeeper, Carolyn Bryant. Three nights later, after Bryant claimed Till assaulted her, several of her relatives and friends tortured the boy to death and threw his battered body in the river.
Now, “The Blood of Emmett Till,” the latest book by historian, author, filmmaker and activist Timothy B. Tyson, has garnered worldwide attention since its release earlier this year.
Tyson will visit Wofford College in March for two events that are free and open to the public. At 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, Tyson will read from the book, and at 11 a.m. Thursday, March 23, he will discuss the book and his recent activism in North Carolina. Both events will be held in Leonard Auditorium in Main Building on Wofford’s campus.
The events are part of Wofford’s African / African American Speaker Series.
“The Blood of Emmett Till” tells what actually happened to the young man. Part detective story and part political history, Tyson’s book draws from a wealth of new evidence, including the only interview ever given by Bryant, who confessed to Tyson in 2007 that she lied about being assaulted by Till.
The national coalition organized to protest the Till lynching became the foundation of the modern civil rights movement. Only weeks after he was killed, Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of a city bus in Montgomery, Ala. Five years later, the Emmett Till generation launched sit-in campaigns that turned the struggle into a mass movement.
Tyson and his book have garnered attention by national media outlets, including the New York Times, the Guardian, CBS This Morning and the Washington Post.
Accolades the book has received include:
“From one of our finest civil rights historians comes this harrowing, brilliant and crucial book. The full story of Emmett Till has never before been told. It will terrify you; it should. It will inspire you; it must.” – Jeff Sharlett, author of New York Times bestseller “The Family
“Tim Tyson has universalized the Emmett Till story to make it an American tragedy. His bracing, granular narrative provides fresh insight into the way race has informed and deformed our democratic institutions.” – Diane McWhorter, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Carry Me Home”
“Tim Tyson’s profound eloquence and groundbreaking evidence capture the cries of Emmett Till and the rise of a movement, and will call us to the cause of justice today.” – The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP and author of “The Third Reconstruction”
“Eloquent and outraged. A stunning success essential for our times.” – Nell Irvin Painter, author of “The History of White People”
Tyson is senior research scholar at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and Visiting Professor of American Christianity and Southern Culture at Duke Divinity School. He is also the author of “Blood Done Sign My Name,” a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, winner of the Southern Book Award for Nonfiction and the Grawemeyer Award in Religion, among others; and “Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power,” winner of the James Rawley Prize for best book on race and the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize for best first book in U.S. history from the Organization of American Historians. He serves on the executive board of the North Carolina NAACP and the UNC Center for Civil Rights.