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The Barn : The Murder of Emmett Till and the Cradle of American Racism - Wright Thompson

The Barn

The Murder of Emmett Till and the Cradle of American Racism

By: Wright Thompson

Hardcover | 1 October 2024

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How forces from around the world converged on the Mississippi Delta to cause one of the most notorious murders in US history.

Emmett Till's murder is one of the most infamous in American history; a moment that, more than any other, awakened the world to the racism of the Deep South. Yet despite growing up just a few miles from where it happened, Wright Thompson knew nothing of it until he left Mississippi. This is no accident- the cover-up began at once, and it is ongoing.

Over the course of five years' research, Thompson has learnt that almost every part of the standard account of Till's killing is wrong. In August 1955, after the two men charged with the murder were acquitted by an all-white jury, they gave a false confession to a journalist- one that was misleading about where the murder took place and who was involved. We now know that at least eight people were present, and many more complicit. And we now know precisely where it took place- inside a barn on a 36-square-mile grid called Township 22 North, Range 4 West.

This book tells the story of that barn. It is the story of what really happened on the night of August 28, 1955, and of the individuals who have spent decades bringing the truth to light. And it is the story of the centuries-old forces that made that night inevitable- forces that, over the course of 200 years, transformed Township 22 North, Range 4 West from Choctaw land, to a slave plantation, to a sharecropper's farm, to the site of the most significant murder in US history.

The result is a revelatory work of investigative reportage and a panoramic new history of white supremacy in America. It maps the road that the US - and the world - must travel to heal its oldest, deepest wound.

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