The image of Emmett Till’s open coffin, revealing the 14-year old’s horrifically disfigured face, is one of the most heart-wrenching images of the Civil Rights Era. The Chicago teenager was murdered while visiting relatives in the Mississippi Delta in the summer of 1955. Enraged white men kidnapped, tortured, and killed him for having dared to have whistled at a white woman. In an equally horrific miscarriage of justice, only two men stood trial and the all-white jury quickly found them not guilty. The photograph of Emmett Till served to mobilize a campaign against the violence of the late Jim Crow South. Professor Karlos K. Hill’s The Murder of Emmett Till: A Graphic History
(Oxford UP, 2020) tells the story of this crime, placing it in the context of both the African American experience and the practice of white supremacy. As part of Oxford University Press’ acclaimed Graphic History Series, Hill’s book is a comic rendering of Emmett Till’s death and the frustrating struggle for justice. The book captures Emmett Till’s humanity in the face of inhumane evil.
Dr. Karlos K. Hill is an Associate Professor and Department Chair of African and African-American Studies at the University of Oklahoma. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2009 and has taught at St. Olaf College, Luther College, and Texas A&M. Professor Hill specializes in the history of anti-Black violence and its legacies. In addition to scores of articles, he is the author of Beyond the Rope: The Impact of Lynching on Black Culture and Memory
, out in 2016 with Cambridge University Press. He is also the author of a forthcoming book The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre: A Photographic History
, out next year with the University of Oklahoma Press.
Michael G. Vann is a professor of world history at California State University, Sacramento. A specialist in imperialism and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, he is the author of The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empires, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam
(Oxford University Press, 2018). When he’s not reading or talking about new books with smart people, Mike can be found surfing in Santa Cruz, California.