FSU presents inaugural Emmett Till Archives Lecture

Emmett Till was a 14-year-old African American who was lynched in 1955 after being accused of offending a white woman in her family's grocery store.
Emmett Till was a 14-year-old African American who was lynched in 1955 after being accused of offending a white woman in her family’s grocery store.

Two of the nation’s foremost experts on the legacy of Emmett Till will be the featured speakers at Florida State University’s inaugural Emmett Till Archives Lecture Thursday.

Filmmaker and producer Keith Beauchamp and writer Devery Anderson will discuss their work on the history of the Emmett Till case and their most recent projects with Davis Houck, Fannie Lou Hamer Professor of Rhetorical Studies in the School of Communication at FSU, at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, at the Askew Student Life Cinema Building.

“To be able to host Devery and Keith for our inaugural event is very meaningful,” Houck said. “Both generously donated their one-of-a-kind research materials to Special Collections. As a result, Strozier Library is home to the most comprehensive collection of Till materials in the world. The archive will serve as the premier repository of Till-related documents for students, scholars, activists, filmmakers and journalists.”

Beauchamp is the award-winning filmmaker and producer of “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till.” Most recently, he co-wrote the major motion picture, “Till,” and served as a producer along with Whoopi Goldberg, who co-stars in the film.

Anderson’s book, “Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement,” is the basis of season one of the TV miniseries, “Women of the Movement,” an anthology about the civil rights movement. Season one will air on ABC and Hulu in January 2022.

This event also celebrates Beauchamp’s and Anderson’s archival collections at FSU. The availability of their materials gives researchers the opportunity to gain new insights into Till’s legacy and his continuing impact in contemporary scholarship. The Keith Beauchamp Papers feature interviews with Mamie Till-Mobley, Simeon Wright, Wheeler Parker, Willie Wright, Thelma Wright Edwards, Willie Reed, Al Sharpton, and many others who were critical to persuading the FBI to re-open the case in 2004.

The Devery Anderson Papers include newspaper and magazine articles, publications, interviews and notes collected and created by Anderson during research for publications on Emmett Till.

“The Emmett Till Archives are a critical resource for anyone doing research on the Till case, and the additional availability of Devery’s research materials and interviews add important evidence and voices to the already rich resources in Keith’s papers,” said Katie McCormick, associate dean for Special Collections and Archives. “In conjunction with the Houck Papers, Dave Tell’s research, and the Tobias Papers, students and researchers are better able to interrogate myths, legends, and lies in the Till case and further the truth. We are grateful to Devery and Keith for sharing their important work.”

Houck collaborated with FSU Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives to develop the Emmett Till Archives, which includes newspapers, magazines, oral histories, the records of civil rights organizations, photographs, government records, scholarly literature, creative works, and other materials documenting the Till case and its commemoration, memorialization and discussion in scholarship and popular culture.

The Emmett Till Archives Lecture Series is funded by the Emmett Till Lecture and Archives Fund, established by Houck to provide support to maintain, enhance, promote and grow the Emmett Till Archives at Florida State University Libraries. One of the nation’s leading experts on Emmett Till, Houck is a creator and collaborator in the development of the Emmett Till Memory Project, a digital production with scholars Dave Tell and Pablo Correa which connects students to the people, places and primary sources associated with Till’s murder and legacy. Houck also co-authored the book, “Emmett Till and the Mississippi Press” with Matthew A. Grindy.

The archives are open to the public, with some materials currently available at bit.ly/TillDigitalArchives. To learn more about FSU Libraries and Special Collections, visit lib.fsu.edu.