Episode Three: Emmett Till Trial and C. Wright Mills
In 1955, Wakefield graduated from Columbia University and went looking for his first job. Through Indianapolis connections, he landed an interview with Barney Kilgore, editor of The Wall Street Journal. He wasn’t, Kilgore told him, quite ready for the Journal, but he was given a reporting job at a small paper in Princeton, New Jersey, where every day he watched Albert Einstein walk to work. The story of how he moved from the “Princeton Daily Packet” to being a reporter covering the Emmett Till trial for The Nation, is inspiring, but it’s the story of the trial itself that is the center of this podcast. The other center is his reminiscence of famed sociologist C. Wright Mills, author of The Power Elite. Both the Till trial and Mills resonate with our current political culture.
Guest: Dan Wakefield
Dan Wakefield is the author of nine nonfiction books, two memoirs, and five novels, including the best-sellers Going All the Way and Starting Over. He was a staff writer for The Nation, The Atlantic Monthly, and GQ. Bill Moyers called Dan’s memoir Returning, A Spiritual Journey, “one of the most important memoirs of the spirit I have ever read.” Of his book Island in the City: The World of Spanish Harlem, James Baldwin wrote: “Dan Wakefield has a remarkable combination of humility and tough-mindedness that makes these streets and these struggling people come alive.”
In addition to his own books, Dan Wakefield has taught writing at U Mass, the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, Boston University, Emerson College, the University of Illinois Journalism School and the graduate writing program at Florida International University.
Recently, he wrote the introductions to the Kurt Vonnegut Letters, If This Isn’t Nice What Is: The Graduation Speeches of Kurt Vonnegut, and Kurt Vonnegut, The Complete Stories. Born in Indianapolis, and a graduate of Shortridge High School, he returned to Indianapolis in 2011.
Host: Susan Neville
Susan Neville is the author of seven books of creative nonfiction and three collections of short stories. Her first collection of stories won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction from the University of Georgia, her second the Richard Sullivan Prize from the University of Notre Dame Press, and the third the Catherine Doctorow Award for Innovative Fiction from FC2, an imprint of the University of Alabama Press. She holds the oldest endowed chair for a woman professor in the country, the Demia Butler Chair of English Language and Literature at Butler University.
Susan Neville will be producing and serving as host for the podcast.
Technical Support: Megan Grady-Rutledge of Butler University’s Center for Academic Technology.
Megan's background includes an AS in Broadcast Production from Vincennes University, a BA in Anthropology with a minor in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from IU Bloomington, and an MA in English from Butler University. She has worked in higher education for the last fifteen years—first as an English instructor, later as an administrator in advising and registration, and now as an academic technology specialist and co-supervisor of Butler library’s Information Commons. Prior to her work at Butler, she spent five years focused on delivery of quality academic programs delivered in face-to-face, online, and blended modalities, with responsibilities in faculty development.
These podcasts were made possible by grants from Indiana Humanities, the Ayres Fund of Butler University, and the Demia Butler Chair Fund.
A Dominique Weldon, Rory Deshner Production
Neville, Susan, "Episode Three: Emmett Till Trial and C. Wright Mills" (2020). Naptown. 3.