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Dave Tell To Accept McLemore Prize at Annual Meeting

Cleveland, Mississippi
March 5-6, 2020

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A work about Emmett Till has won the Mississippi Historical Society’s award for the best Mississippi history book of 2019. Dave Tell will be awarded the McLemore Prize for his book Remembering Emmett Till published by the University of Chicago Press. Since 2014, Tell has been the lead investigator on the Emmett Till Memory Project.

“Tell’s book examines the complexities of commemorating one of the greatest tragedies in Mississippi history: the lynching of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy from Chicago whose brutal murder helped ignite the Civil Rights Movement,” said Shennette Garrett-Scott, University of Mississippi associate history professor and chair of the McLemore Prize committee. “Tell explores, among many complex issues within the politics of memory, the ways Till commemoration has become an economic driver for the Delta.”

Tell is a professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas. He drew on untapped archives, a thousand pages of never-before-seen FOIA documents, competing maps, and extensive on-site experience. “The book presents the murder from the perspective of those who live in its shadow and, all too often, survive economically through the desperate repackaging of Till’s story,” said Tell.

The McLemore Prize goes to the best book on a subject related to Mississippi history or biography published during the previous year. The prize memorializes Richard A. McLemore, former president of the Mississippi Historical Society and director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and his wife, Nannie Pitts McLemore, who also served as MHS president and who jointly wrote numerous books and scholarly articles with her husband. The McLemore Prize carries a $700 cash award.

Tell will accept the award and deliver a lecture at the Mississippi Historical Society’s annual meeting on Thursday, March 5, in Cleveland, Mississippi. To register for the meeting, visit

The Mississippi Historical Society, founded in 1858, encourages outstanding work in interpreting, teaching, and preserving Mississippi History. Membership is open to anyone; benefits include receiving the Journal of Mississippi History, the Mississippi History Newsletter, and discounts at the Mississippi Museum Store. For information on becoming a member, call 601-576-6856.