This important documentary investigates the murder and subsequent injustice surrounding Emmett Louis Till’s death. Many consider this case to be the true catalyst for the American Civil Rights Movement.
In August 1955, Mamie Till-Mobley of Chicago sent her only child, 14-year old Emmett Louis Till, to visit relatives in the Mississippi Delta.
She had no way of knowing that 8 days later, Emmett would be abducted from his Great-Uncle’s home and brutally beaten and murdered for one of the oldest Southern taboos: addressing a white woman in public. The murderers were soon arrested but later acquitted of murder by an all-white, all-male jury.
However, Emmett did not die in vain.
His horrific, senseless death sparked national media attention when his mother insisted on having an open casket funeral. Her decision was controversial but her reason was simple: “I want the world to see what they did to my son.”
Till’s death sparked the Black Resistance of the South which later became known as the American Civil Rights Movement. Scholars and historians have studied the murder of Emmett Till ever since, and the case has even made its way through African-American folklore.
Even after five decades, people continue to be fascinated and troubled by the murder of Till. Many books have been written revealing the incongruous facts surrounding the influential case and controversial jury decision.
But the true story had never been revealed.
Filmmaker Keith Beauchamp has produced a documentary unfolding a drama that has haunted society for the last 50 years. He reveals the end product of nine years of research and investigation, hoping to finally bringing justice to a family and a nation’s agony. The true story is being told for the first time, redefining the way we think and feel about the American Civil Rights Movement.
Initially, Beauchamp wanted to write and film a fictionalized version of the story. As he started researching the subject, however, he realized that truth was more gripping and provocative than fiction and that Till’s story could be told more effectively in a documentary.
“I read the book, “The Death in the Delta” by Steven Whitfield, and a master’s thesis about Emmett Louis Till, written by Steven Whitaker. Then I went on a huge hunt to locate newspaper microfilm that covered the murder,” Beauchamp recalls.
He was surprised that there was so little information available about Till’s death: even newspaper accounts were sketchy and inconclusive. Undaunted, Beauchamp determined to learn more. His research turned into a full-blown investigation, as he set out to find family members and other eyewitnesses who were present on the night of the murder.
Unlike any other work produced on the Till case, “The Untold Story of Emmet Louis Till” reveals unprecedented accounts by first-hand eyewitnesses, many of whom are speaking out for the first time.
A complete list of those interviewed for the film follows after the jump.
On May 10, 2004, the United States Justice Department reopened the investigation into the murder of Emmett Louis Till, citing Beauchamp’s film as the main impetus and starting point for their investigation.
“The Untold Story of Emmet Louis Till” will be presented in full screen format, with portions of the film in black and white and portions in color. SRP will be $29.99, but this documentary should be available at most stores for under twenty dollars.