Dave Tell talks of the Murder of Emmett Till and its Mysteries

By Micah Watney    Sterling, KS – Feb. 27, 2018, 10:06 P.M.


As Black History Month comes to close, Dr. Daniel Julich, assistant professor of History, invited Dr. Dave Tell, associate professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas, to share his knowledge about the murder of Emmett Till and the mysteries that still surround it.

Sponsored in part by the Kansas Humanities Council, Tell gave his lecture at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26 in Heritage Hall.

Emmett Till was a 14-year-old African-American Teenager who came to visit the Mississippi Delta in 1955. He was violently murdered after being kidnapped for whistling at a white woman one day while outside a grocery store. His nearly unrecognizable body was found floating in a river early in the day after his kidnapping. The murder became famous after Emmett’s mother requested that Emmett be given an open casket funeral.


Courtesy of The New Yorker


During his presentation, Dr. Tell uncovered many misconceptions that many people commonly have about the murder of Emmett Till. He uncovered that it was more than just the commonly believed two people who killed him. Some estimates state that it was at least seven people who helped with his murder. However, Dr. Tell spent most of his time talking about the three main theories as to where he was murdered as there is still no surefire evidence as to the location.

Dr. Tell began his research in the early 2000s when he began working on his dissertation. He has been fascinated with the subject ever since.

“For the first like eight years… I thought I knew everything until I realized I didn’t know half the story. Then I started going down there [Mississippi]. I sort of accepted all the stories that were told.” – Dr. Dave Tell

Dr. Tell is currently working on an app titled: The Emmett Till Memory Project. The app will take the user to different spots around the Mississippi Delta and explain the story of the murder and the different stories surrounding each murder location theory. He expects the project to take him a couple more years.

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