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Tipper posted a blog post

When You Get in the Habit of Saying the Same Thing

Have you ever been around someone who used the same word or words in every sentence? Years ago, I was introduced to a man who at the end of every sentence said and what not. I remember being obsessed with listening to him. I wanted to see if just once he wouldn't say and what not. It never happened. He said the phrase at the end of every sentence just like clock work.A few other habitual sayings I've…See More
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Bil Stahl updated their profile
Feb 17
Ann Miller Woodford posted an event
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Ann Miller Woodford at Gospel Singing program: Liberty Baptist Church, Sylva, NC & Exhibit; WCU Mountain Heritage Center

February 19, 2017 from 3pm to 5pm
WCU's Mountain Heritage Center and curator, Ann Miller Woodford, will present an exhibit on African-American far western NC community, music, and history, based on Ann’s book, When All God's Children Get Together: A Celebration of the Lives and Music of African American People in Far Western North Carolina.The exhibit is based upon Woodford’s book of the same name, which examines musical traditions of the African-Americans as practiced at home, work, churches and schools.The exhibit examines…See More
Feb 16
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Feb 15
Rob Neufeld posted blog posts
Feb 15
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy Rytson

Tyson’s Emmett Till book probes darknessby Rob NeufeldEVENT: Timothy Tyson discusses his book, “The Blood of Emmett Till,” at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood St., Asheville, 6 p.m., Wed., Feb. 15.  828-254-6734.             The headline about the publication of Timothy Tyson’s new book, “The Blood of Emmett…See More
Feb 13
Tipper posted a video

Kudzu Kickers - Waltz Clog

In case you didn't know-we dance too! Our clogging team is called the Kudzu Kickers. In this video we were practicing for an upcoming festival. The Pressley ...
Feb 11
Tipper posted a blog post

Memories and Food

Each of us have memories that are connected to food. Typically those remembrances are directly related to our childhood, you know the things we ate around the family table like the chocolate gravy I told you about earlier this week.A few years ago I…See More
Feb 11
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Feb 8
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Jewish Studies special events March 23-26

Center for Jewish Studies 35th Anniversary Events from press releaseUNC Asheville’s Center for Jewish Studies (CJS) will celebrate its 35th anniversary with a series of special events on and off campus March 23-26. Rick Chess talk and readingUNC Asheville Professor of English Richard Chess has been director of the CJS for the past 25 years and will deliver the 2017 Phyllis Freed Sollod Memorial Lecture on the celebration’s opening night. A poet and essayist, Chess will offer a vision of Jewish…See More
Feb 7
Julia Nunnally Duncan updated their profile
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David E. Whisnant updated their profile
Feb 6
Rob Neufeld posted blog posts
Feb 4
City Lights Bookstore posted an event
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David Joy Presents His Second Novel at Jackson County Public Library

March 3, 2017 from 6:30pm to 8pm
The Jackson County Public Library and City Lights Bookstore are co-hosting an event with David Joy on Friday, March 3rd at 6:30 p.m. He will present his second novel, The Weight of This World, in the Community Room of the Jackson County Public Library. Set in the Little Canada community of Jackson County, The Weight of This World is a story of three people haunted by their past. A combat veteran returned from war, Thad Broom can’t leave the hardened world of Afghanistan behind, nor can he…See More
Feb 4
Tipper posted a blog post

Hiccup Cures

Do you ever get the hiccups? Every once in a while I do. If I have them once during a day-I always have them again before the day is over. My record is 5 different times in one day.We've all heard drinking water or holding your breath is the remedy to stop hiccups. According to John Parris saying this tongue twister will cure them:Hickup, snicup, rise up, right up! Three drops in the cup are good for…See More
Feb 4
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The German experience settling WNC

The German migration to Western North Carolinaby Rob Neufeld PICTURE CAPTION: An immigrant family comes down the Philadelphia Wagon Road in the mid-18th century, as had the George Schuck family done, and as this Scots-Irish family is doing in an 1872 “Harper’s Weekly” illustration, titled, “The…See More
Feb 3

Tyson’s Emmett Till book probes darkness

by Rob Neufeld

EVENT: Timothy Tyson discusses his book, “The Blood of Emmett Till,” at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood St., Asheville, 6 p.m., Wed., Feb. 15.  828-254-6734.

 

            The headline about the publication of Timothy Tyson’s new book, “The Blood of Emmett Till,” has been: “Accuser recants testimony 60 years later.”

            In 2007, Tyson had contacted Till’s accuser, Carolyn Bryant, and landed the only interview with her since an all-white Mississippi jury had exonerated the lynchers—Roy Bryant, Carolyn’s husband; and J.W. Milam, Roy’s thug-like half-brother.

            Bryant had invited Tyson because she’d just read his first book, “Blood Done Sign My Name,” a memoir about his childhood in Oxford, N.C., and the lynching event through which he’d lived.  Plus, the recording of the trial had just been found, and its transcript released.

            So Bryant’s recantation, withheld by Tyson for timing impact, was big news.

            But there are two other possible headlines, based on Tyson’s work:

            “Why the Till lynching is the most notorious racial incident in history” and: ‘How African-Americans made a successful protest.”

            Tyson illustrates his history with detail and feeling, becoming turgid only when chronicling national trends, and rising to a call for the end of white supremacy.

 

Portrait of a hero

 

            Tyson’s portrayal of Emmett Till’s mom, Mamie Bradley, is legendary.

            As soon as she got the news of Emmett’s death—she was in their hometown, Chicago—she called the press, her only avenue of power.  When Tallahatchie County officials moved to bury Emmett immediately, she stopped that action; and she overruled others by requiring an open casket at Emmett’s funeral.

            Her emotional power came through when she cried to Emmett’s corpse, “My darling, my darling, I know I was on your mind when you died.”

            Emmett had been a protected, happy-go-lucky boy who’d regularly attended church and emulated comic George Sobel.  Emmett’s death, as Tyson reveals in a late chapter, had been horrible, having followed broken bones and mutilations.

            Reporters mobbed Mrs. Bradley when she arrived in Mississippi.  The “Chicago Defender,” an African-American newspaper, reported that Mamie shouted out, “Lord you gave your only son to remedy a condition, but who knows but what the death of my only son might bring an end to lynching.”

 

Exposing complexity

 

            In his effort to end racism, Tyson strives to humanize the villains (except for Milam) and cast the net of accountability wide.

            The interview with Bryant must have greatly impressed him. 

            In her tween years, Carolyn had been best friends with a black neighbor, Barnes Freeman, until Barnes had invited Carolyn to ride on his bike and her aunt Mabel had suddenly panicked at the threat.

            Carolyn’s father had been a prison guard who had refused to whip black prisoners.  After his death, she’d eloped with Roy Bryant and became part of a family who used the n word a lot and made family loyalty the number one ethic.

            Tyson repeatedly shines a light on what he calls a “fallen world” and the way racism corrupts all of America. 

            That includes Chicago, where the segregated African-American ghetto was called “Little Mississippi”; and where, in 1953, white mobs besieged African-Americans who moved into a white neighborhood.

            The depths and ironies of the big story is that Mississippi supremacists used Chicago’s ills in defense of themselves and of their symbols, Milam and Bryant.

            The defense position is a study in twisted logic and conspiracy theory.

            H.C. Strider, the Tallahatchie County sheriff, announced, as the trial was going on, “I’m chasing down some evidence now that the killing might have been planned and plotted by the NAACP.”

            In court, the defense team questioned whether the body pulled out of the river with a fan tied to its neck with barbed wire was actually Emmett, or even black—though, as Tyson, comments, the sheriff sent the body to an African-American funeral home.  Also, the body was wearing the ring Emmett’s father, Louis, had given him.

            (John Edgar Wideman’s new book, “Writing to Save a Life,” poetically and probingly explores the life of Louis Till, who was hanged by the U.S. Army.)

            The aim of the defense strategy was to speak to the jury.  Mamie was branded as an outsider and a traitor to Mississippi.  Emmett, according to exaggerated and false accounts, was accused of threatening Southern white womanhood.

            “The contradiction of a defense team strategizing to introduce a motive for a crime they professed their clients did not commit,” Tyson writes, “provided glaring evidence, if any were needed, that the trial had never been about justice.”

 

Memory and history

 

            In his recreations and deductions, there’s one scenario that Tyson doesn’t shed enough light on—what may have actually happened with Carolyn Bryant in Bryant’s Grocery.  Emmett had gone there with friends, who dared him to ask Carolyn for a date?  I find that preposterous, unless his friends and cousins hated him, which they didn’t.

            Tyson may have felt he didn’t have enough information to get imaginative in a true way, for, after all, fake news and false memories are some of Tyson’s targets. 

            “We must look at the facts squarely,” Tyson proclaims, and he quotes W.E.B. Du Bois: “This country has had its appetite for facts on the Negro question spoiled by sweets.”

            Facts do allow Tyson to bolster legends.  African-American doctor T.R.M. Howard founded the Regional Council of Negro Leadership in Mississippi; and built an armed compound at which witnesses, activists, and reporters found sanctuary. 

            Rev. Moses Wright, from whose house Emmett had been kidnapped, testified at the killers’ trial despite two recent assassinations of African-American trouble-makers.  A photo of him identifying Milam by pointing at him from the witness stand became famous.

            The heroes were effective.  The Emmett Till story became historic and marks the years 1954-55 as one the large convulsions in our country’s progress. 

            In 1954, Brown v. the Board of Education required the integration of public schools.  Milam himself blamed that Supreme Court decision for the murder of Till.  Till’s influence, as Mamie had intended, continues to shape events.

            Rosa Parks decided to refuse to stand on the Montgomery bus four days after she’d heard a speech about Till.  The African-American N.C. A&T students who staged a sit-in at the Greensboro Woolworth’s had been moved by the legacy of Till. 

            Six decades later, Tyson notes, protestors at the trial of the police officer who had killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, shouted, “Say his name!  Emmett Till!”

 

Rob Neufeld writes the weekly book feature for the Sunday Citizen-Times.  He is the author and editor of six books, and the publisher of the website, “The Read on WNC.”   He can be reached at RNeufeld@charter.net and 505-1973.  Follow him @WNC_chronicler.

 

 

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