In the Name of Emmett Till
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In the Name of Emmett Till

How the Children of the Mississippi Freedom Struggle Showed Us Tomorrow

Robert H. Mayer

Foreword by Leslie-Burl McLemore

Title Details

Pages: 224

Illustrations: archival and historical photos

Trim size: 5.500in x 8.500in



Pub Date: 09/14/2021

ISBN: 9-781-5883-8437-9

List Price: $19.95


Pub Date: 09/14/2021

ISBN: 9-781-5883-8445-4

List Price: $19.95


NewSouth Books

In the Name of Emmett Till

How the Children of the Mississippi Freedom Struggle Showed Us Tomorrow

Robert H. Mayer

Foreword by Leslie-Burl McLemore

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  • Reviews

The killing of Emmett Till is widely remembered today as one of the most famous examples of lynchings in America. African American children in 1955 personally felt the terror of his murder. These children, however, would rise up against the culture that made Till’s death possible. From the violent Woolworth’s lunch-counter sit-ins in Jackson to the school walkouts of McComb, the young people of Mississippi picketed, boycotted, organized, spoke out, and marched, working to reveal the vulnerability of black bodies and the ugly nature of the world they lived in. These children changed that world.

In the Name of Emmett Till: How the Children of the Mississippi Freedom Struggle Tore Down Yesterday and Showed Us Tomorrow weaves together the riveting tales of those young women and men of Mississippi, figures like Brenda Travis, the Ladner sisters, and Sam Block who risked their lives to face down vicious Jim Crow segregation. Readers also discover the adults who guided the young people, elders including Medgar Evers, Robert Moses, and Fannie Lou Hamer.

This inspiring new book of history for young adults from award-winning author Robert H. Mayer is an unflinching portrayal of life in the segregated South and the bravery of young people who fought that system. As the United States still reckons with racism and inequality, the activists working In the Name of Emmett Till can serve as models of activism for young people today.

The senseless killing of Emmett Till sent shockwaves across the nation, shining a light on the systemic racism and bigotry plaguing Mississippi and the rest of the country. As a student and historian of the civil rights movement, Robert H. Mayer beautifully captures the tragedy of this moment and unearths the compelling, often-forgotten stories of the youth activists who rose up against this grave injustice. Combining comprehensive research with gripping storytelling, Mayer weaves a powerful narrative of the past to inspire young civil justice warriors of today.

—Vangela M. Wade, president and CEO, Mississippi Center for Justice

In the Name of Emmett Till vividly explains how the brutal killing in 1955 of a fourteen-year-old boy in the Mississippi Delta inspired a generation of young people to fight for Black freedom. Mayer’s narrative details how the courageous activism of scores of Mississippi youth in the decade after Till's murder played a decisive role in dismantling the state's system of racial apartheid. This book is a powerful reminder that young people are always at the forefront of positive social change.

—Charles C. Bolton, professor of history, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

The death of Emmett Till lit the spark for many young activists. In the Name of Emmett Till tells their powerful stories. A most welcome book that proves that youth and inexperience are insignificant when coupled with a burning desire to make a difference.

—Devery S. Anderson, author of Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement

From the horrific lynching of Emmett Till in 1955 to the groundswell of support for Freedom Schools nine years later, Robert Mayer traces how SNCC activists in their twenties like Bob Moses and Sam Block inspired local teenagers to sustain the civil rights movement in Mississippi. In Jackson, McComb, Greenwood, Canton, and other places, students used school walkouts, store boycotts, sit-ins, as well as voter registration drives to challenge endemic white supremacy. In clear compelling prose, the author presents the gripping personal stories of these young people who found their voices and changed the nation.

—William Heath, author of The Children Bob Moses Led

In the Name of Emmett Till presents stories of everyday people deeply affected and ultimately transformed by the lynching of Emmett Till in 1955. Rather than choose fear or despair, they discovered within their deepest selves the power not only to imagine a more just world but the courage to fight for it. Through deeply textured personal portraits, Robert Mayer brings their stories to life. His book is an unflinching, deeply researched, and evocative work.

—Shennette Garrett-Scott, author of Banking on Freedom: Black Women in U.S. Finance Before the New Deal

I am grateful for this book by Robert Mayer. My life will be forever changed for having read about these young Mississippi activists, who in the wake of the tragic killing of Emmett Till imagined what hope could look like, who knew that to bring about a paradigm shift challenges would have to be faced. A fascinating work.

—Pamela D. C. Junior, director, Two Mississippi Museums

In the Name of Emmett Till shows how brave acts transformed lives and empowered others to work for justice, voting rights, and desegregation, feeding a movement that improved life for millions. A compelling history.

—Foreword Reviews

Inspiring and well-researched.


Mayer’s book is best when reminding readers that history is made by quotidian actions of ordinary citizens, not by superheroes.

—SourceClarion-Ledger Books Page

About the Author/Editor

ROBERT H. MAYER is the award-winning author of When the Children Marched: The Birmingham Civil Rights Movement and editor of The Civil Rights Act of 1964. As a teacher, Mayer’s passion has been and continues to be making history relevant and accessible to young people. His time spent in Jackson, Canton, and McComb, Mississippi, as well as meeting scholars and activists integral to the civil rights movement, fueled Mayer’s desire to write In the Name of Emmett Till. He resides in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania with his wife Jan, where he continues to write, teach, and tutor young people in a local middle school.