Dr. Quintard Taylor
Dr. Quintard Taylor - Jim Emison’s work is particularly moving to me as a native of Brownsville, Tennessee. This fellow West Tennessean, whom I proudly call my friend, has caused all of us to revisit a singularly graphic tragedy in the history of Haywood County not simply to remind us of a horrific past but to encourage us to remember how far we have come since that time. He chose to do so by bringing the world’s attention to the death of one man, Elbert Williams, who through his personal courage and bold actions, initiated a campaign that would change not only Brownsville and Tennessee but the whole South and in many respects the entire nation. Quintard Taylor, The Scott and Dorothy Bullitt Professor of American History, University of Washington, Seattle.
Dr. K. B. Turner
Dr. K. B. Turner - Mr. Jim Emison’s inquiry into the 1940 mysterious disappearance and death of Mr. Elbert Williams contributes to our overall understanding of this country’s civil rights history. I strongly support his writing of a book and quest to have the Department of Justice reopen the case. These inquiries will undoubtedly provide fruitful information on Williams and the circumstances surrounding his violent and untimely death.Dr. K. B. Turner, PHD, Chair & Associate Professor, Department Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Memphis
Dr. Margaret Vandiver
Dr. Richard Saunders
Dr. Amy Mundorff
Dr. Michael Honey
Rev. Clay Evans
Dr. Richard A. Couto
Dr. Margaret Vandiver - One of the enduring tragedies of lynching is that we know so little about its victims. Jim Emison’s meticulous research illuminates the life of Elbert Williams, who was lynched in 1940 in Brownsville, Tennessee. Emison’s forthcoming book promises to be an important contribution to our knowledge as well as a long overdue tribute to this courageous man and his work for civil and voting rights. Margaret Vandiver, Author of Lethal Punishment: Lynchings and Legal Executions in the South, Professor Emerita, Dept. of Criminology & Criminal Justice, University of Memphis
The Hatchie, six miles south of Brownsville, from which Elbert Williams's corpse was pulled Sunday June 23, 1940.
ELBERT WILLIAMS:FIRST TO DIE
Dr. Richard Saunders - America's past is filled with stories from its people and their experiences. Many pass out of memory with the change of generations, but some are so compelling, they represent broader experience with such clarity, that they are worth the effort and the emotion of remembering. Elbert Williams' story is worth remembering. As one who has studied Williams' time and place I look forward eagerly to Jim Emison's retelling a story that should live on in American memory. Richard L. Saunders, Dean of Libraries, Southern Utah University and student of social change within the Haywood-Fayette experience, and author of dissertation, "Encouraged by a Little Progress: Voting Rights and the Contests over Social Place and Civil Society in Tennessee's Fayette and Haywood Counties." Richard Saunders forthcoming book is not yet titled.
Dr. Amy Mundorff - I am honored and humbled to play a small part in Jim’s mission to bring long-overdue justice to Elbert Williams.
Dr. Michael Honey - The Elbert Williams lynching in 1940 capped years of violent suppression of black voting rights in the South. Mr. Williams was a hero in the struggle for black voting rights in West Tennessee but his sacrifice was long forgotten. Jim Emison's fight to bring this story to light can help us to continue Willliams's struggle for democracy today. Michael Honey, author, Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King's Last Campaign.
Dr. Richard A. Couto - Jim Emison's work brings to light one instance of the resistance of African-Americans to disfranchisement and other oppressive measures of the Jim Crow era. In 1940, Elbert Williams paid the ultimate price for forging a link in the history of the struggle for civil rights that goes back to the Civil War and extends to our own time. Rescuing the story of this resistance from neglectful shadows recognizes the courage of Williams and the other members of a fledgling NAACP chapter to gain the right to vote. It is a small and precious piece of the brilliant but still unfinished mosaic of the American struggle "to form a more perfect union." Richard A. Couto, Distinguished Senior Scholar, Union Institute, Author, Lifting the Veil: A Political History of Struggles for Emancipation, Editor, Political and Civic Leadership
Reverend Clay Evans - A native son of Haywood County, TN, I was only 15 when I heard about what they did to Elbert Williams. Black folks got the message: If we became involved with the NAACP, we’d end up dead in the Hatchie River, too. By the time I left Brownsville and the Jim Crow South a few years later, they still hadn’t brought charges against anyone for the brutal murder of Elbert Williams. Now that I’m 90, I’m glad we finally commemorated his death with a proper ceremony and put up an historical marker. But I continue to wait for justice. Seventy five years later, Elbert Williams’ blood still cries from the earth for justice. God forbid we are negligent. Those of us who have lived to see this day when churches in the South are not safe and voting rights are in peril we owe it to Elbert Williams to stay faithful to the struggle. I encourage Jim Emison to write the Elbert Williams’ story, and I endorse his efforts to have the Department of Justice reopen the case. Like Medgar Evers, Elbert Williams paid the ultimate sacrifice because of his work for voting rights. This work is unfinished and his story is unknown, but it is no secret what God can do. I urge Jim to do all that he can do to secure justice for Elbert Williams, once and for all. God bless you. Reverend Clay Evans, Founder and Pastor Emeritus of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, Chicago, Illinois Chairman Emeritus of Operation Push