Mamie Till-Mobley has long been recognized as the Black mother whose 14-year-old son, Emmett Louis Till, was brutally tortured and murdered during the Jim Crow era in Mississippi.
But now the public will remember her not only as the “mother of the civil rights movement,” but also for how far she went to ensure justice for her son. Her decision to conduct an open-casket funeral to display her son’s gruesomely damaged body — which was shot for Jet magazine in 1955 — and how her struggle for justice helped birth a movement will be chronicled in the upcoming film “Till.”
“The whole house began to scream and cry when I began to report that Emmett had been found and how he was found,” Till’s mother stated nearly seven decades ago. “And that’s when I understood I’d have to carry this load on my shoulders. I wouldn’t be able to handle this load alone. I believe that everyone was interested in learning what had happened to Emmett Till.”
Chinonye Chukwu, who directed “Clemency,” will direct the picture, which will also include Whoopi Goldberg as Till’s grandmother and Danielle Deadwyler as Mamie.
In a statement to Variety, Goldberg stated, “We have waited a very long time to present this historically necessary and important picture to people.” “And as we witness the repression of people of color in American history, it becomes even more critical. Fred, Barbara [Broccoli], Chinonye, Keith [Beauchamp], Michael [JP Reilly], and Danielle are the best people I could be with.”
Deadwyler, who played in HBO’s critically acclaimed limited series “Watchmen,” said she wants to portray Mamie’s joy, love, and happiness with her only child. “I am grateful for the women who stand by me while I carry the burden of this manifestation and as an heir to such a lineage,” Deadwyler added.
Till had traveled from Chicago to spend the summer of 1955 near Money, Mississippi, with his family, when he was accused of making attempts toward Carolyn Bryant, a white lady storekeeper. Till was taken from his great-house, uncle’s assaulted, maimed, shot in the head, and then dumped in the Tallahatchie River within days. On August 31, his mangled body was discovered three days later.
Roy Bryant, the woman’s husband, and J.W. Milam, the woman’s half-brother, were tried but acquitted of any participation in the teen’s death. Years later, the lady, then known as Carolyn Bryant Donham, would deny her statement that Till had made any kind of sexual advances toward her. In author Tim Tyson’s book “The Blood of Emmett Till,” Donham argued that “nothing the boy did could ever justify what happened to him.” The United States Department of Justice reopened the case in 2017 as a result of the new developments detailed in the book, but no charges were ever filed against Donham.
In 2003, Till-Mobley passed away.