The last surviving witness to the lynching of Emmett Till tells his story, with poignant recollections of Emmett as a boy, critical insights into the recent investigation, and powerful lessons for racial reckoning, both then and now.
“In this moving and important book, the Reverend Wheeler Parker Jr. and Christopher Benson give us a unique window onto the anguished search for justice in a case whose implications shape us still.”—JON MEACHAM
In 1955, Emmett Till was lynched when he was fourteen years old. That remains an undisputed fact of the case that ignited a flame within the Civil Rights Movement that has yet to be extinguished. Yet the rest of the details surrounding the event remain distorted by time and too many tellings. What does justice mean in the resolution of a cold case spanning nearly seven decades? In A Few Days Full of Trouble, this question drives a new perspective on the story of Emmett Till, relayed by his cousin and best friend—the Reverend Wheeler Parker Jr., a survivor of the night of terror when young Emmett was taken from his family’s rural Mississippi Delta home in the dead of night.
In a hypnotic interplay between uncovered facts and vivid recall, Rev. Parker offers an emotional and suspenseful page-turner, set against a backdrop of reporting errors and manipulations, racial reckoning, and political pushback—and he does so accompanied by never-before-seen findings in the investigation, the soft resurrection of memory, and the battle-tested courage of faith. A Few Days Full of Trouble is a powerful work of truth-telling, a gift to readers looking to reconcile the weight of the past with a hope for the future.
About the Author
Reverend Wheeler Parker Jr. is pastor and district superintendent of the Argo Temple Church of God in Christ in Summit, Illinois, the church built by Alma Carthan, grandmother of Emmett Till. A sought-after public speaker, Rev. Parker lectures and teaches on the history of the struggle for equal justice in America. He has enjoyed more than fifty years of marriage to his wife, Dr. Marvel Parker.
Christopher Benson—Emmy Award–winning lawyer, journalist, and associate professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism—co-authored, with the late Mamie Till-Mobley, the Pulitzer Prize–nominated, Robert F. Kennedy Award–winning Death of Innocence. Formerly the Washington editor of Ebony, he has contributed to Chicago magazine, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and The New York Times.
“The murder of Emmett Till is an inflection point in the story of America—a moment of particular and of universal significance. In this moving and important book, the Reverend Wheeler Parker Jr. and Christopher Benson give us a unique window onto the anguished search for justice in a case whose implications shape us still. A vital and absorbing book.”—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of And There Was Light
“Everyone should read this compelling account to understand why we must continue to fight for justice on all levels.”—Carlotta Walls LaNier, author of A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School
“Emmett Till’s murder changed the course of American history. Like so much of our history, the truth of it has been shrouded and distorted, but Reverend Parker’s riveting book reveals new details about Till’s life and community, as well as shocking twists in the decades-long quest for justice. It’s a precious contribution to our shared history, and I am grateful for it.”—Heather McGhee, New York Times bestselling author of The Sum of Us