McMahon’s Drawings of the Emmett Till Murder Trial

The blog Today’s Inspiration this week posted a fascinating 1968 Famous Artists Magazine interview with artist-reporter Franklin McMahon who died last March. It is worth a read. McMahon was one of the greatest practitioners of visual journalism. He knew how to find a story and sell it to editors. As far as I know the only trial he covered was the 1955 trial for the murder of Emmett Till. The images posted here are from that trial.

This is McMahon’s sketch of Till’s uncle, Mose Wright, pointing to one of the defendants in the courtroom.

And this is the same moment serruptitiously captured from a different angle by photographer Ernest Withers.








Art Lien

Courtartist is me, Art Lien. I've been sketching the courts since 1976, and for most of that time the U.S. Supreme Court has been my regular beat. I've been working almost exclusively for NBC News since 1980. Courtroom sketching is a form of visual journalism or reportage drawing that is slowly dying out. Where once upon a time news organization each had their own artist covering a story, today a "pool" artist often sketches for all. It is a demanding and stressful discipline where the drawing is often done directly and under tight deadline.

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3 comments on “McMahon’s Drawings of the Emmett Till Murder Trial
  1. Avatar Stephanie Gibree says:

    I adore your blog! Thanks for posting such inspiring work. Keep it up :)

  2. Avatar Drew McMahon says:

    My grandfather also covered the Nuremberg trails, Jimmy Hoffa’s trail, the Chicago 7 conspiracy trail, and the Watergate hearings.
    Here is a link to a film he did about the Chicago 7 trial for PBS

    There are few more films that can be accessed in the below link.
    I think there are some comments about the Emmett Till trial in the “artist as a reporter” film

    There used to be a few thousand images up in but sadly I think they aren’t there any longer.

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