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Civil Rights: The Emmett Till Case

 

In August 1955, a fourteen year old African American boy from Chicago named Emmett Till went to visit relatives near Money, Mississippi. While he had experienced racial discrimination in his hometown of Chicago, he was unaccustomed to the severe segregation he encountered in Mississippi. Soon after talking in "too friendly a manner" with a young white woman in a store, he was kidnapped in the night at gunpoint and brutally murdered by two white men. He was badly beaten before being shot and the corpse was nearly unrecognizable. His mother insisted on an open casket funeral in Chicago and news of Emmett Till's murder shocked America and the world. An all-white jury failed to convict the accused murderers, adding a further sense of injustice. The case is viewed as a turning point in the civil rights movement because of the notoriety it gave to the plight of African Americans in the South.

Telegram, Chicago Defender to DDE re: Emmett Till case, September 1, 1955 [DDE's Records as President, Alphabetical File, Box 3113, Emmett Till]

Reply to Chicago Defender from J. William Barba, September 2, 1955 [DDE's Records as President, Alphabetical File, Box 3113, Emmett Till]

Telegram, Mamie Bradley (mother of Emmett Till) to DDE, September 2, 1955 [DDE's Records as President, Alphabetical File, Box 3113, Emmett Till]

Document, Sherman Adams to Department of Justice, September 6, 1955 [DDE's Records as President, Alphabetical File, Box 3113, Emmett Till]

Letter, J. Edgar Hoover to Dillon Anderson, September 6, 1955 [White House Office of the Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, FBI Series, Box 3, FBI T-Z (1)]

Memo, Maxwell Rabb, re Negro Communist leader "Lightfoot," September 12, 1955 [Maxwell Rabb Papers, Box 51, Mississippi]

Letter, J. Edgar Hoover to Dillon Anderson, September 13, 1955 [White House Office of the Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, FBI Series, Box 3, FBI T-Z (1)]

Night letter, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, AFL to Attorney General Brownell, September 28, 1955 [DDE's Records as President, Alphabetical File, Box 3113, Emmett Till]

Memorandum, from National Administrative Committee re: Emmett Louis Till Lynching, September 29, 1955 [White House Office of the Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, FBI Series, Box 3, FBI T-Z (1)]

Letter, Publisher of Pittsburgh Courier to E. Frederic Morrow, September 29, 1955 [DDE's Records as President, Alphabetical File, Box 3113, Emmett Till]

Letter, J. Edgar Hoover to Dillon Anderson, October 11, 1955 [White House Office of the Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, FBI Series, Box 3, FBI T-Z (1)]

Resolution passed by the Norwegian Students' Association, October 15, 1955 [DDE's Records as President, Alphabetical File, Box 3113, Emmett Till]

Letter, J. Edgar Hoover to Dillon Anderson, November 22, 1955 [White House Office of the Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, FBI Series, Box 3, FBI T-Z (1)]

Memorandum for the Record, E. Frederick Morrow re: Emmett Till, November 22, 1955 [E. Frederic Morrow Records, Box 10, Civil Rights Official Memoranda, 1956-55]

Memo, Maxwell Rabb to Colonel Andrew Goodpaster regarding mail received at White House regarding Emmett Till, January 6, 1956

Memorandum, J. Edgar Hoover to Dillon Anderson regarding Communist activity, February 8, 1956 [White House Office of the Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, FBI Series, Box 6, 1956 FBI Current Intelligence Estimates (3)]

Memorandum, Maxwell Rabb to James Hagerty, October 23, 1956 [DDE's Records as President, Alphabetical File, Box 3113, Emmett Till]

Memorandum, Maxwell Rabb to James Hagerty, Otober 24, 1956 [DDE's Records as President, Alphabetical File, Box 3113, Emmett Till]

Images in the audiovisual collection

For additional information please see:

Civil Rights Subject Guide