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Tragedy on Trial: The Emmett Till Story Told Through the  Lens of the Law

Tragedy on Trial: The Emmett Till Story Told Through the Lens of the Law


Decades before there was George Floyd, there was Emmett Till. It is said the modern civil rights movement began in earnest with the photos of the brutal murder of 14 year-old Emmett Till in Mississippi in 1955.

These four lectures retell the story of that tragic event and the five-day trial of the two men (Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam) accused and acquitted of Till’s murder. Drawing on the trial transcript and news accounts from the time, the lectures will examine in detail the charges of kidnapping and murder. The discussion will also examine the FBI’s 2004 reopening of the case to determine if other individuals were involved.

The Till trial is a case study not only of the bigotry that condoned barbarity, but also of a system of law (local, state and federal) that failed to render justice in the face of life-denying prejudice. It would take decades fraught with assassinations and race riots before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted into law, which then required Supreme Court interpretation and federal government intervention to implement.  

This lecture series is presented by Ronald Collins, the former Harold S. Shefelman Scholar at the University of Washington School of Law. His areas of specialty are jurisprudence and constitutional law. He has authored eleven books. He is also the co-director of the History Book Festival and book editor for SCOTUSblog.  

Suggested (though not required) reading: The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson, (2017, paperback) and the trial transcript.

NOTE: this meeting is being conducted through Zoom. You MUST REGISTER to receive instructions for joining the meeting.

If you have need assistance with registration or getting your Zoom invitation, please email us.

Basic written instructions for using Zoom may be found here and a brief video tutorial may be found here.


This is an online event. Event URL will be sent via registration email.
Dates & Times:
2:00pm - 3:30pm, Tuesday, August 11, 2020
2:00pm - 3:30pm, Thursday, August 13, 2020
2:00pm - 3:30pm, Tuesday, August 18, 2020
2:00pm - 3:30pm, Thursday, August 20, 2020
Lewes Public Library
  Adults     Older Adults  
  History and Genealogy  
Registration has closed. (This event has to be booked as part of a series)