restricted access Killing Emmett

Mississippi newspapers were fundamental to creating a climate of public opinion that enabled Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam to go free in the trial of Emmett Till. Using newspaper stories, photographs, letters to the editor, and editorials from nine different Mississippi newspapers, I argue that themes of race, gender, class, and sexuality are pivotal to understanding the construction of key players in the trial. In addition, published comments by Roy Wilkins of the NAACP and Till's mother, Mamie Till Bradley, greatly altered the discursive landscape, transforming Emmett Till from an innocent boy into a menacing male. Similarly, Bryant and Milam morphed from local peckerwoods to heroic defenders of the country generally and Southern white womanhood particularly.