The Legacy of Emmett Till - Event Panelists

Learn more about our distinguished event speakers

Cousin of Emmett Till and witness to the events in August 1955

Wheeler Parker Jr.

is the first child born to Hallie and Wheeler Parker in 1939 in Slaughter Mississippi. In 1947 the Parker family relocated to Summit with the hope of providing better living conditions and a better education for their children.


Wheeler returned to Mississippi with his grandfather, Moses Wright during the summer 1955. Travelling with him was his 14 year old cousin Emmett Till. The events of that week changed his life forever. The incident at the store in Money; the night of terror when Emmett was taken from the home and murdered, and his return to Chicago alone and in constant fear for his own life, still causes him to tremble and weep. He always believed he would see Emmett again, not being able to accept that the horrific corpse returned to Chicago was Emmett, and he was able to cope by believing he was not dead. Wheeler is a survivor of this event that sparked the civil rights movement. He travels across the country speaking at Schools and Universities, telling his story of that night of terror and his survival. He challenges young people to be the catalyst for change and make a difference.

Wheeler returned to Summit and completed his education in the Summit school system and graduated from ACHS in 1958. He enjoyed playing the drums in the marching band and playing percussion in the orchestra, basketball and football, and was a member of the track team. He attended Molar Barber College and graduated in 1959. A Graduate of the School of Modern Photography, he has attended Moraine Valley Community College, C. H. Mason Theological Bible School, Global University, and the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. He also served two years in the US Army as a Medical Specialists.


Elder Wheeler Parker Jr. accepted his call to the ministry in 1977, ordained a Minister in 1978; he served as an Associate Minister, was appointed Assistant Pastor in 1992, and appointed Pastor of Argo Temple December 5th, 1993. For his outstanding contribution to the youth in the community, the Summit Park District dedicated its basketball court to him in 1992. Also honored as Citizen of the Year, by the Summit Chamber of Commerce in 1992, for his work in organizing the Summit Community Task Force, an Inter- Faith nonprofit community based organization; where he served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for ten years.


Married for forty-eight years to Dr. Marvel McCain Parker, they have enjoyed traveling world- wide to places such as Africa, Egypt, Israel, Italy, France, England, Switzerland, Germany, Central America and the Caribbean. They provide support to Calvary Temple School and Church in Belize City, Belize.


“Learning to Lean, Learning to Lean, Learning to Lean on Jesus, Finding more power than I ever dreamed, learning to Lean on Jesus.”

Researcher and Author

Dr. Chris Crowe

, professor of English at Brigham Young University, has published many academic articles and book chapters and sixteen books for adults and young adults. In 2003, he received the prestigious Children’s Book Award from the International Reading Association for his historical novel set in the Emmett Till case, Mississippi Trial, 1955. His nonfiction book, Getting Away with Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case, was a 2004 Jane Addams Award Honor Book and was named one of the top 100 books from 1994-2003 by the American Library Association. His interest in the Till case led him to other projects related to civil rights history: a biography of Thurgood Marshall and a children’s book about the first African American player in the American League, Larry Doby. His most recent novel, Death Coming Up the Hill, is set in 1968, a year filled with civil and racial unrest.

FBI Investigator

Dr. Chris Crowe

, Federal Bureau of Investigation, was the agent in charge of the Emmett Till case when it was reopened in 2004. Agent Killinger spent 1 ½ years investigating the case and an additional five months writing the massive report, which totals 135 pages but has an additional 8,000 pages of attachments. His extensive background knowledge of this case made it necessary for him to do all of the investigative work himself, giving him a unique and very complete understanding of the case details.

Agent Killinger enlisted in the army when he was 17 and was trained as a sheet metal worker. He later earned a BS in Science at Millersville University in Pennsylvania. After failing the FBI’s test for new recruits, Killinger took a job in sales. He kept trying for a position with FBI and was finally successful on his third attempt. He spent 10 years as a field agent in Oxford, Mississippi, 7 years heading up the Counter-Terrorism Unit at Quantico, and he’s now in charge of Insider Threats, rooting out internal spies. It was during his time in Oxford that Killinger was assigned to the Emmett Till case.

MSU African American Studies Professor

Dr. Tamara Butler

, is Assistant Professor of English education and African American & African Studies at Michigan State University. She teaches courses on youth activism, the art of storytelling, and how to do research with communities. Dr. Butler’s current research project is interested in activist narratives, or stories women and youth of color tell about how and why they fight for social justice. Before joining the faculty at Michigan State, Dr. Butler was a fellow in the 2012-2014 cohort of the Cultivating New Voices Scholars of Color fellowship program of the National Council for Teachers of English, and a 2012-2013 Bell Fellow for the Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male.

Ph.D., Ohio State University
M.A., Ohio State University
B.S., Xavier University of Louisiana

Event Moderator

Kristina Marshall

, has a Juris Doctorate degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Speech Communication from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She is a member of the advisory council for The National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE). NCORE constitutes the leading and most comprehensive national forum on issues of race and ethnicity in American higher education. The conference focuses on the complex task of creating and sustaining comprehensive institutional change. Ms. Marshall is also the current Chair of the Foster Care Review Board in Ingham County (Lansing, Michigan) and a Charter Member of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (Washington, D.C.). Ms. Marshall began teaching paralegal students while working in the court system. She has always had a passion for social justice and equality. Before teaching full time, Ms. Marshall investigated business discrimination complaints and helped facilitate successful resolutions.

She began teaching at Baker College of Owosso over ten years ago and is currently a full-time professor of Social Science, teaching cultural diversity, social problems, business law and oral communication. She regularly assists with curriculum revision and has been directly responsible for fundamental improvements in the Sociology curriculum. In addition to teaching, Professor Marshall serves on the Unity Committee, co-chair of the Professional Merit Committee, Black History chair, Faculty Quality Council, Blackboard champion, and facilitates professional development workshops on diversity and teaching approaches. She has received the prestigious 2015 Instructor of the Year award, as well as the 2011 Employee of the Quarter award and 2010 Most Animated Employee award.

 Additionally, Ms. Marshall facilitates workshops for companies on diversity, sexual harassment, team building, negotiations, and parliamentary procedures. However, she will tell you that her highest honor is being the mother of her 9-year-old son, Andrew, who is a student in the Okemos School District.

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