Murder With Southern Hospitality:
An Exhibition of Mississippi Mysteries

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Race and Crime

Both of the works featured in this section of true crime result from the efforts of late twentieth-century historians to solve nineteenth-century Mississippi murders. John Phillip Colletta explores an 1873 Mississippi murder case handed down as family lore in Only a Few Bones. In Death of an Overseer, author Michael Wayne attempts to uncover the truth behind the 1857 murder of a Natchez, Mississippi plantation overseer.

In the summer of 1955, Emmett Till, an African-American teenager from Chicago visiting relatives in Money, Mississippi, was viciously murdered. Although Till was known as a quiet, shy young man with a stutter, he was accused of making sexual advances to a white female. After a jury acquitted two white men of the brutal slaying, one of the accused bragged of his involvement to the national media. On display are works published around the time of the crime which all feature aspects of true crime narrative. Of particular note is the piece entitled Complete Photo Story of Till Murder Case published by Ernest Withers, an African-American photographer from Memphis. Offering graphic photographs and unprecedented access to the Till family, Withers began the work with the question “Why such a pamphlet as this?” He answered this question with the hope that his pamphlet would “serve to help our nation dedicate itself to seeing that such incidents need not occur again.”

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