1955: Dr. James D. Hardy named first chair of Department of Surgery at University Medical Center

University Hospital in 1955 (MDAH Collection)
University Hospital in 1955

He was one of the founding fathers of the institution and pioneered organ transplant surgery.

Link to the catalog

1955: Supreme Court hands down Brown II decision

Anti-integration broadside (MDAH Collection)
Anti-integration broadside

The US Supreme Court assigned district courts to carry out school desegregation with “all deliberate speed.” Many southern school districts saw Brown II as an opportunity to delay integration.

1955: Tennessee Williams wins Pulitzer Prize for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

May 7, 1955: Reverend George Lee, NAACP voter registration worker, murdered in Humphreys County

Lee, vice president of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership, was shot in the face for promoting black voter registration in the Mississippi Delta. No one was charged for the murder.

August 13, 1955: Brookhaven voter registration worker Lamar Smith murdered on courthouse lawn

Lincoln County Courthouse in Brookhaven (MDAH Collection)
Lincoln County Courthouse in Brookhaven

A farmer and World War II veteran, Smith was killed for encouraging blacks to register to vote. According to historian John Dittmer, although the courthouse lawn was filled with people, no witnesses stepped forward and “the killer went free.”

Link to the catalog

August 28, 1955: Emmett Till, young African American from Chicago, murdered

The 14-year-old was kidnapped, beaten, shot and dumped into the Tallahatchie River for allegedly whistling at a white woman.

September 1, 1955: Governor Hugh White orders local officials to prosecute Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam for Emmett Till murder

J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant (MDAH Collection)
J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant

September 23, 1955: Jury acquits Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam in Emmett Till murder

Outside courthouse during trial (MDAH Collection)
Outside courthouse during trial

A grand jury indicted Bryant and Milam in the murder of Emmett Till on September 6. Their trial began on September 19 in the Tallahatchie County courthouse in Sumner. Bryant and Milam were acquitted  after 67 minutes of  jury deliberation. The case attracted national attention.

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