Why the Federal Government Did Not Prosecute Emmett Till's Killers
42 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2005
Date Written: November 2005
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: Suggested Citation