Date: Feb 16, 2011
Contact: Carol Connelly, Director,
Media & Communication Services, ext. 5267, firstname.lastname@example.org
PNC, Library Programs Address the Language of Hate Speech
WESTVILLE – Purdue University North Central, the Michigan City Public Library and the Irving Levin Jewish Cultural Fund of Sinai Temple will host Christopher Benson, co-author of the book, “Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime that Changed America,” for a March 16 noon presentation at the Michigan City Public Library,100 E. Fourth St., Michigan City, on the new language of hate speech. The event is free and open to the public. There will be a free lunch buffet.
Benson will detail what we can learn from the 1955 lynching of 14-year-old Chicagoan Emmett Till, about the current realities of the language of hate and the roles of education, the media and people in its use. He will also talk about the book, which is a memoir by Mamie Till-Mobley, mother of Emmett Till. The noon event will be held in the library's community room.
There will be time for an open discussion, questions and a book signing by Benson.
Benson will then travel to Purdue North Central for a 3 p.m. Books and Coffee gathering in Library-Student-Faculty Building Room 144, which will be part of the PNC Books and Coffee discussion series. This event is free and open to the public.
Benson will speak about his book, which details the an event that some historians consider to be the most important turning point in US civil rights history – the day that Emmett Till was murdered.
Benson co-wrote the book with Mamie Till-Mobley, Emmett Till's mother. Mamie Till-Mobley asked Benson that the story be her narrative that he was writing and the book is presented in her voice. The book provides a mother's loving remembrance of her son, as told by Till-Mobley to Benson. It is also presents the ways that laws concerning hate speech and hate crime resulted from the Till murder.
“The Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime that Changed America,” earned the 2004 BlackBoard Nonfiction Book of the Year Award and the 2003 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award Special Recognition. He has co-authored a screenplay based on the book and has spoken extensively on the significance of Mamie Till-Mobley's contribution to the modern civil rights movement.
Benson is an associate professor of African American Studies and Journalism at the University of Illinois, at Urbana-Champaign. He earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees at the University of Illinois and his J.D. at Georgetown University. He worked as a Chicago city hall reporter for an area radio station and “Ebony” magazine features editor and Washington editor. He has written for “Chicago,” “Savoy,” “Jet” and “Crisis” magazines and contributed to “The Washington Post,” “Chicago Tribune,” “Chicago Sun-Times” and “Reader's Digest. “
He was a co-writer and associate producer of the WTTW Channel 11 documentary “Paper Trail: 100 Years of the Chicago Defender,” and winner of the 2005 Peter Lisagor Award for exemplary journalism (documentary) by the Chicago Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
He was a promotional writer and speechwriter for Washington, D.C. politicians, including former U.S. Rep. Harold Washington and former Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chairman Clarence Thomas and press secretary for former U.S. Representative Cardiss Collins.
In addition, he was editorial consultant for “Don't Block the Blessings: Revelations of a Lifetime,” “The New York Times” bestseller and NAACP Image Award-winning memoir by Patti LaBelle with Laura B. Randolph.
Benson has written fiction, including the novel Special Interest, a Washington-based suspense thriller and the short story “Double Dealing,” published in “Shades of Black: Crime and Mystery Stories by African-Americans,” edited by Eleanor Taylor Bland.
Information about Benson's visit to PNC may be obtained by contacting Mellin at 785-5200, ext. 5215. Persons with disabilities needing accommodations should contact ext. 5215.