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Book Chapter

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An Unfamiliar America: Essays in American Studies

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The story of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Chicago kid murdered in Mississippi for whistling at a white woman, is well known in its broadest outlines today. In fact, Emmett Till’s name has become shorthand for the horrors of white supremacy and Jim Crow segregation, much as Anne Frank’s name signals the destruction of innocence in the holocaust. But it wasn’t always that way. The most surprising thing about the Till story is how totally forgotten it was for over 30 years, among white Americans that is, even as African-Americans kept his flame alive. Till’s is an important example of how we forget and why we remember, and an example of how even memory is often segregated.


ISBN 9781003092131


This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in An Unfamiliar America: Essays in American Studies on November 13, 2020, available online:

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Available for download on Friday, May 13, 2022

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