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Date & Time

Monday, January 21, 2019
6:00 PM


Seminary Co-op Bookstore


Free and open to the public


Seminary Co-op Bookstore
(773) 752-4381


"This perceptive take on a signal event from the civil rights movement deserves a wide readership." — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"As racially motivated violence and death still haunt American communities, "Let the People See" reminds us all both how far the country has come and how much farther it has to go." — Foreword Reviews, Five Star Review

Elliott J. Gorn—Joseph A. Gagliano Chair in American Urban History at Loyola University Chicago—discusses "Let the People See: The Story of Emmett Till". A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.

At the Co-op

About the book: The world knows the story of young Emmett Till. In August 1955, the fourteen-year-old Chicago boy supposedly flirted with a white woman named Carolyn Bryant, who worked behind the counter of a country store, while visiting family in Mississippi. Three days later, his mangled body was recovered in the Tallahatchie River, weighed down by a cotton-gin fan. Till's killers, Bryant's husband and his half-brother, were eventually acquitted on technicalities by an all-white jury despite overwhelming evidence. It seemed another case of Southern justice.

Then details of what had happened to Till became public, which they did in part because Emmett's mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, insisted that his casket remain open during his funeral. The world saw the horror, and Till's story gripped the country and sparked outrage. Black journalists drove down to Mississippi and risked their lives interviewing townsfolk, encouraging witnesses, spiriting those in danger out of the region, and above all keeping the news cycle turning. It continues to turn. In 2005, fifty years after the murder, the FBI reopened the case. New papers and testimony have come to light, and several participants, including Till's mother, have published autobiographies. Using this new evidence and a broadened historical context, Elliott J. Gorn delves more fully than anyone has into how and why the story of Emmett Till still resonates, and always will. Till's murder marked a turning point, Gorn shows, and yet also reveals how old patterns of thought and behavior endure, and why we must look hard at them.

About the author: Elliott J. Gorn is Joseph A. Gagliano Chair in American Urban History at Loyola University Chicago. He is author of several books, including "Dillinger's Wild Ride: The Year that Made America's Public Enemy Number One".

About the interlocutor: Timothy Gilfoyle is Professor of History at Loyola University, Chicago. A former President of the Urban History Association, he is author of City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution, and the Commercialization of Sex; A Pickpocket's Tale: The Underworld of Nineteenth Century New York; and Millennium Park: Creating a Chicago Landmark.