Emmett Till's photo on his grave marker in Alsip, Ill. (Robert A. Davis/Chicago Sun-Times via Associated Press)

Leonard Pitts Jr. began his review of Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till” [“One woman’s role in a lynching prompted by a lie,” Outlook, Feb. 12] by stating emphatically, “Everyone already knows the story” of the brutal lynching of Till and the injustice of its aftermath. He repeated his “everyone knows” theme several times. While the repetition’s effect may be dramatic, the statement is, at best, hyperbolic. I am confident that many, if not the vast majority of, Americans alive at the time of Till’s savage murder have never heard of it. The figures are undoubtedly higher for those born since the 1955 killing. Pitts also repeated several statements “the former Carolyn Bryant,” the white woman who claimed Till “got fresh with her,” made to Tyson. Pitts wrote, “Bryant . . . recants a claim she made at the time that Emmett put his hands on her, first seizing her wrist and then grabbing her about the waist.” I was 11 at the time of Till’s lynching, and my mother (who looks strikingly like Bryant in the photo alongside the review), horrified by the incident, repeatedly spoke of Till having merely wolf-whistled at Bryant, but she never mentioned any purported physical contact. Thus, that part of the story was news — even to me. Regarding Bryant’s recantation that Tyson and Pitts appear to accept on faith, the trial lawyer in me wants to ask Bryant, “Were you lying then, or are you lying now?” In any event, I hope we all can agree that, as Pitts quoted Bryant telling Tyson, “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him.”

Jonathan Strong, Washington