Shadows of Emmett Till is a long-term project and a photo book that focuses on the Mississippi Delta and what remains of Emmett Till’s time. The Delta has been called “The Most Southern Place on Earth,” a region of layered histories that collide with each other on a daily basis. It’s a place that defines America and Americans like no other part of the country – a culture entwined with slavery, poverty, and political and economic oppression. It is the land that gave birth to the creative genius of Muddy Waters and B.B. King, and to the horror of the Civil Rights-era murder of young Emmett Till.
Shadows of Emmett Till seeks to probe that complex past: picturing the energy of a landscape that has bred both hatred and creativity and observing the many ways the shadow of Till’s murder still hangs over the Delta. This is work that seeks to frame the region and its people in a 21st-century context, at a time when white America may be starting to finally come to terms with the sins of its past.
I have roamed countless miles across this land, photographing the Delta of today and what remains of Emmett’s time in the Delta. Along the way, past spills into present, with parallels to George Floyd and so many others.
Shadows of Emmett Till was published in December 2022. It includes 70 duotone archival images, 140 color contemporary images, essays, poems, and maps. The archival images relate to Jim Crow times, Till’s funeral, the Milam-Bryant trial, and selected Civil Rights events.