Whitewashing the Origins of the Civil Rights Movement: The Lynching of Emmett Till

Clenora Hudson-Weems, Ph.D., was the first to establish the position of the August 28, 1955, brutal lynching of Emmett Louis Till, the 14-year-old Black Chicago youth, for whistling at a 21-year-old white woman (Carolyn Bryant) in Money, MS, as the catalyst of the Modern Civil Rights Movement. In her 1988 doctoral dissertation, ‘Emmett Till: The Impetus for the Modern Civil Rights Movement’ (U. of Iowa), later published as Emmett Till: The Sacrificial Lamb of the Civil Rights Movement (1994), she carefully documents the Till murder case as having set the stage for the 1956 Montgomery Bus Boycott, since it happened 3 months and 3 days before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery bus, December 1, 1955. A Ford Fellow, she quests for truth surrounding the underplaying of the case in American history, concluding that Parks’ demonstration was more palatable than Till’s bloated face, in spite of King’s assertion in Stride Toward Freedom that pressed in the minds of the Alabamians during the boycott was the image of Till. Contending that ‘Historians will talk about the good and the bad, but they won’t deal with the ugly …’


She’s recently completed a screenplay for an upcoming hollywood film, I’ve read part of it.  She has an oscar-winning director and actors working with her.  It will get an oscar if they do it justice.

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