There are many heroes of the civil rights movement—men and women we can look to for inspiration. Each has a unique story, a path that led to a role as leader or activist. Death of Innocence is the heartbreaking and ultimately inspiring story of one such hero: Mamie Till-Mobley, the mother of Emmett Till—an innocent fourteen-year-old African-American boy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and who paid for it with his life. His outraged mother’s actions galvanized the civil rights movement, leaving an indelible mark on American racial consciousness.
Mamie Carthan was an ordinary African-American woman growing up in 1930s Chicago, living under the strong, steady influence of her mother’s care. She fell in love with and married Louis Till, and while the marriage didn’t last, they did have a beautiful baby boy, Emmett.
In August 1955, Emmett was visiting family in Mississippi when he was kidnapped from his bed in the middle of the night by two white men and brutally murdered. His crime: allegedly whistling at a white woman in a convenience store. His mother began her career of activism when she insisted on an open-casket viewing of her son’s gruesomely disfigured body. More than a hundred thousand people attended the service. The trial of J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant, accused of kidnapping and murdering Emmett (the two were eventually acquitted of the crime), was considered the first full-scale media event of the civil rights movement.
What followed altered the course of this country’s history, and it was all set in motion by the sheer will, determination, and courage of Mamie Till-Mobley—a woman who would pull herself back from the brink of suicide to become a teacher and inspire hundreds of black children throughout the country.
Mamie Till-Mobley, who died in 2003 just as she completed this memoir, has honored us with her full testimony: “I focused on my son while I considered this book. . . . The result is in your hands. . . . I am experienced, but not cynical. . . . I am hopeful that we all can be better than we are. I’ve been brokenhearted, but I still maintain an oversized capacity for love.” Death of Innocence is an essential document in the annals of American civil rights history, and a painful yet beautiful account of a mother’s ability to transform tragedy into boundless courage and hope.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
We live in a world where there are two sides to every story! No matter how you slice it, everyone has different views and their own take on how something impacted them.
What do you really know about Emmett Louis Till? He was a 14-year old teen from Chicago who went down to Mississippi and whistled at a white woman. That's the story I've heard all of my life, but one thing never occurred to me -- just who was Emmett Till? Most people in the African-American community tell the story the same, as if Emmett was some stupid smart eleck kid who thought he could bring his northern attitude down to the dirty south. I've heard about the horrific savage beating and murdering of Emmett. I saw the pictures heard the whispers throughout, never really knowing!
If you thought you knew the real Emmett Till story--guess again! Who other than the person that gave Emmett life could know this story? Who other than the person who had the strength to forge on and change civil rights...
Most Americans, one assumes, know who Emmitt Till was: a 14 year-old African-American boy who was murdered and brutally mutilated for allegedly whistling at a white girl in Money, Mississippi in the summer of 1955. Few know anything more about the boy or the travesty of justice that followed the trial of those accused of the murder. _Death of Innocence_ is a hard read - a reminder of our not-too-distant past, and of who we Americans are.
The book is Emmitt's story - and that of his mother - written in what I can only assume is her voice: it is plain, simple, and almost bursts with a mother's pride, love and joy for her son. This, of course, makes the reading all the more powerful and tragic reading her reaction and emotions upon learning of the death of her son. The book is also the story of the Civil Rights Movement - of what the Jim Crow south was like, of its petty indignities, the daily injustices African-Americans had to face, and of the brutal realities those who...
This is such a good book. A life on the right track ended by pure ignorant people. It's sad that there was no punishment for the crime of killing a black boy in Mississippi. Very sad even now. A book about a boy who brought so much joy to those around him and the mother who only wanted to tell his story. Mamie did so much in his memory as well as etch so much more in American history. This book makes you stop and think that not too long ago this was what was happening. I recommend this book to anyone. It should also be a reading assignment in schools everywhere. It makes you think and makes you appreciate what all these people did to help shape America. The land of the free.
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