FSU presents second annual Emmett Till Archives Lecture series

Emmett Till

Special to the Outlook 

Florida State University will host a talk on Mamie Till-Mobley’s significant contributions as a public educator and activist during the second annual Emmett Till Archives Lecture Series. 

Brandon M. Erby, assistant professor of writing, rhetoric, and digital studies at the University of Kentucky will present the “Educational Legacy of Mamie Till-Mobley” from 5:30-8 p.m. on March 28 in the Broad Auditorium at FSU’s Claude Pepper Center. 

Erby’s research includes African American rhetoric, literacy and language studies, critical pedagogy and rhetorical history. He is currently writing a book about the activism, pedagogy and legacy of Till-Mobley. 

Till-Mobley joined a national speaking tour sponsored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People after the death of her son, Emmett Till, in the fall of 1955. She was determined to teach audiences about who her son was, how she raised him and how his story connected to a larger history of racism, violence and justice in the United States. 

Erby’s talk will trace the pedagogical performances of Till-Mobley and insists she was a fervent believer in two things: teaching others and promoting educational initiatives to make sure her son’s name remained culturally relevant. 

“Although Emmett Till’s death played a major role in how Till-Mobley is remembered and influenced the work that she would later do, it’s important to know her as more than a grieving mother who left her son’s casket open for the world to see,” Erby said. “I look forward to discussing this aspect of Till-Mobley’s legacy and highlighting how Till-Mobley’s work and memory continue to inform views about race, education and justice in the United States.”  

This lecture was funded by the Emmett Till Lecture and Archives Fund, established by Davis Houck, Fannie Lou Hamer Professor of Rhetorical Studies in the School of Communication at FSU.

“As a Tougaloo College graduate in the state capital of Jackson, Dr. Erby’s involvement with Mississippi’s civil rights history is personal,” Houck said. “With the recent Hollywood films putting Mamie Till-Mobley at the very center of her martyred son’s story, Dr. Erby’s re-centering of her in public and academic scholarship is much needed and most timely.”  

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 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. To RSVP for The Emmett Till Archives Lecture, visit bit.ly/TillSeries2023. 

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