August 28, 2020 marks the 65th anniversary of Emmett Till's murder. George Floyd's murder has been compared to Emmett Till's. What has changed in the past 65 years, and what work still needs to be done?
Christopher Benson, a journalist and lawyer, is an associate professor of journalism at Medill, the journalism school of Northwestern. He is co-author with Mamie Till-Mobley of "Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America," the account of the historical significance of the 1955 lynching of Till-Mobley’s son, Emmett Till, and the winner of the 2003 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award Special Recognition.
As a professional journalist, Benson has worked as Washington editor for Ebony magazine, city hall reporter in Chicago for WBMX-FM, and as a contributor for The Chicago Reporter, writing a weekly online column on justice, race and media issues. Additionally, he has contributed feature articles to Chicago, Savoy, and The Crisis magazines, and has contributed commentary to The Huffington Post, the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, and the Chicago Sun-Times.
As an attorney, he served as vice president and associate counsel for Johnson Publishing Company, Inc., the parent company of Ebony. Among other things, he conducted pre-publication review of all company magazines for libel, privacy and copyright issues, and was Chicago management liaison for the startup and ongoing oversight of Ebony South Africa magazine.