Why the Federal Government Did Not Prosecute Emmett Till's Killers

42 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2005

See all articles by Jonathan L. Entin

Jonathan L. Entin

Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Date Written: November 2005

Abstract

The Emmett Till murder had a galvanizing impact on many civil rights activists. The two prime suspects were acquitted of his killing by an all-white Mississippi jury that deliberated barely over an hour. The federal government never prosecuted anyone in connection with his murder and kidnapping. This paper examines the political and legal factors that led federal officials not to act in this notorious case, focusing on the Eisenhower administration's lack of enthusiasm for civil rights as well as the uncertain state of federal authority to prosecute racial crimes at the time. It also explores more recent judicial and legislative developments, some of which were related to federal inaction in the Till case.

Keywords: Emmett Till, Civil Rights, Racial Discrimination, Lynching

JEL Classification: K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Entin, Jonathan L., Why the Federal Government Did Not Prosecute Emmett Till's Killers (November 2005). Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 05-38. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=845008 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.845008

Jonathan L. Entin (Contact Author)

Case Western Reserve University School of Law ( email )

11075 East Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44106-7148
United States
216-368-3321 (Phone)
216-368-2086 (Fax)

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