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UK researcher examines the life and activism of Mamie Till-Mobley, Emmett Till’s mother

Brandon M. Erby, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies in the UK College of Arts and Sciences, is studying the life of Till-Mobley following that decision, which became a pivotal moment for the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.  

“We always see Mamie Till-Mobley in this moment of her son's funeral and opening that casket. It’s a powerful and important way of seeing her,” Erby said. “But I’m also thinking about what she was doing in the 45-plus years from the moment her son is killed up until her death in 2003.”  

Erby received a 12-month Career Enhancement Fellowship from the Institute of Citizens and Scholars in the summer of 2023. His forthcoming book will examine how Till-Mobley continued to commemorate her son’s life after the historic casket decision and how her work is relevant to contemporary issues.  

“My project is tracing her not only as a mother but as an activist, an educator, a lobbyist in political fights for racial justice and really thinking of her as a foremother,” Erby said. “Rosa Parks, for instance, was also critical in thinking about how Emmett Till’s murder could motivate people to pursue social justice and activism work.”

Read more about his research here