Award-Winning Civil Rights Documentarian, Whoopi Goldberg, and Mississippi Burning Producer team with Simeon Wright, Emmett Till's cousin, to tell the untold story of Emmett Louis Till with TILL: a feature film.
As we continue to face persistent civil rights issues, the need for a feature film on the boy who changed a nation is more critical today than ever before.
It has been 60-years since the murder of Emmett Till and today his legacy continues to fascinate and inspire people from all walks of life. This film will depict the tragically brutal lynching of Emmett Till in 1955 and the courageous, catalytic decisions his mother, Mamie Till Mobley, made that galvanized the American Civil Rights movement.
The adapted screenplay for TILL, a feature-length drama, will be based on Beauchamp’s ‘Untold,’ and Simeon Wright’s book: ‘Simeon's Story: An Eyewitness Account of the Kidnapping of Emmett Till.'
In the summer of 1955, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old youth from Chicago, travelled down to Mississippi to visit his uncle and cousins. While standing outside a country store in Money, MS, Emmett whistled at Carolyn Bryant, young, attractive woman. Her husband, Roy Bryant, and his brother, JW Milam, came under the cover of night and abducted Emmett from his uncle’s home. Three days later, Emmett’s body was found in the Tallahatchie River, beaten beyond recognition.
Mamie Till Mobley managed to have his body shipped back to Chicago, where she ordered an open casket funeral, generating national news coverage, with over 50,000 visitors, and subsequent public outrage.
In Mississippi, Roy Bryant and JW Milam were arrested and tried for the murder of Emmett Till. After five days, an all white jury found the men not guilty. A photo of Emmett’s disfigured face published in Jet magazine has become a worldwide sensation, shocking not only the black community but also others worldwide.
In 1996, Award-Winning Filmmaker Keith A. Beauchamp began his investigation into the Emmett Till murder and trial. In 2004, Keith’s research ultimately led him to create the documentary The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till, and prompted The United States Justice Department to reopen the then 50-year-old murder case.
As an impressionable 10-year-old boy, Keith Beauchamp encountered an anniversary issue of Jet magazine featuring Emmett’s dead body horribly disfigured by murderers. “On one side there was a picture of Emmett as a normal healthy boy and he looked just like me, and on the other side there was this monster. I couldn’t get that image out of my mind.” That was Keith’s “Till Moment” and it would end up influencing the rest of his life.
At a high school dance, while Keith was dancing with a white girl, a white guy interjected and said to him, “Hey nigger, stick to your own kind”. A fight quickly escalated, until it was revealed that the guy was an undercover cop. Keith was arrested, cuffed, and beaten. Keith remembers, “The only thing I could think of was Emmett Till. The only thing.” It was an experience Keith hoped no one else would have to endure, and it galvanized him to find justice for Emmett Till.
This was not just one family’s tragic loss. It was a nation’s loss. The story of Emmett is our shared responsibility to tell. Thanks to Kickstarter, we can begin to fulfill that responsibility.
We can start by sharing our "Till Moments", join us in this movement. We invite you to share the moment when you first learned about Emmett Till and first saw “that photograph." Share your #MyTillMoment in any media platform of your choosing – through photos, videos, tweets.
This will not only be used to share Emmett's story, but also it will commemorate the 60th anniversary of his death.
The launch of this Kickstarter campaign is not about breaking crowd-funding records. It’s aimed at garnering grassroots support for the film and spreading awareness about Till’s legacy. This is a movement. The money raised from this campaign will be used for development.
© A Change is Gonna Come by Boys Choir of Harlem
© Original TILL Artwork by Nolan Lee
Risks and challenges
We feel a deep sense of responsibility to tell Emmett's story in the most historically honest, artistically meaningful, and unforgettable way as possible. This is not just any ordinary film undertaking: TILL will portray the vicious murder of a young black boy and the heroic decisions made by his mother that galvanized the greatest historical movement of our time: the American Civil Rights Movement. To take this story of such historical magnitude on is an honor as well as a huge responsibility. We also understand that in trying to start our "Till Movement" with this project that we are up against formidable challenges. Just look at the headlines today. Racism is alive and well in this country and we know that telling a story like this will be met with resistance. That’s why we’re hoping this Kickstarter Campaign will help us build a groundswell of support and an army of supporters who will march with us as we make this important film.
Of course, as with any film project, there are all sorts of risks and we’ll surely encounter bumps along the way. However, based on our experience and success of our Producers, particularly Keith Beauchamp who has dedicated 20 years of his life to the Emmett Till case, and the track records of Whoopi Goldberg and Fred Zollo, we intend to let nothing slow us down. We will make this movie happen and, with the Kickstarter community behind us, this film will be the ‘people’s film’ about Emmett Louis Till.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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