Jim Emison

Independent Historian

Jim Emison, resident of Alamo, Tennessee, retired in 2011 after forty-three years as a courtroom lawyer. Since retiring, Emison has devoted his full time to investigating, speaking, and writing a book about the Elbert Williams murder.  His other interests are civil rights and the history of West Tennessee.  He is a member of the West Tennessee Historical Society and a Gold Life member of the NAACP.

In 2015 Emison was instrumental in obtaining an official State of Tennessee historical marker honoring Elbert Williams, and, in holding a memorial service for Williams on the seventy-fifth anniversary of his death. Emison has requested the Department of Justice to reopen the investigation into Williams’s murder.

Emison received his B. A. in history from Vanderbilt University in 1965, and his J. D. from the University of Tennessee College of Law 1968, where he was on the Law Review, and earned multiple academic awards.

Admitted to the Bar in 1968, Emison served 1968-1969 as law clerk for the Tennessee Chief Justice, followed by three years in the US Navy JAGC, before entering private law practice with his father in 1972.

Emison is one of only two persons who have served as President of both the Tennessee Bar Association and the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association. He also served six years on the Tennessee Judicial Selection Commission.

In 1968, Emison and Elizabeth Wells married. Their son Theo, is a lawyer in San Francisco, their daughter in law Carrie is also a lawyer. The Emisons’ granddaughters, Avery and Ella, are students.

Elbert Williams (1908-1940)

Elbert Williams is the first known member of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to be murdered for his civil rights activities.  Williams was born on October 15, 1908, in rural Haywood County, Tennessee, the son of farmer Albert Williams and … Read MoreElbert Williams (1908-1940)