Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Wednesday is not only the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
It is also the anniversary that 14-year-old Emmitt Till was beaten, shot through the head and thrown in a river with a cotton gin’s fan tied to his neck. All because he might -- MIGHT -- have made slightly sexually suggestive overtures to a white woman and POSSIBLY might have whistled at her.
Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff wrote in the Pulitzer Prize-winning history, "The Race Beat", that "merely covering Negro leaders and their activities...constituted groundbreaking reporting in those years."
John Herbers was a native of Tenneesse, living in Jackson, Mississippi, and working for UPI. He covered the Till murder trial. The all-white jury took less than an hour to acquit the two murderers -- who later gleefully told their story of kidnapping, torture, and murder to "Life" magazine.
Herbers was one of the few reporters to remain calm and professional during the trial. But after....
"I hunched over the steering wheel and cried. I wanted to cry Mississippi out of my very core."