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Will Smith and Jay-Z are the producers of a new Emmett Till miniseries
Will Smith & Jay-Z

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Jay-Z & Will Smith to Executive Produce limited series on Emmett Till

A couple of days ago, on the 65th anniversary of the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till, ABC announced a new limited series about Till’s mother Mamie Elizabeth Till-Mobley.

The six-part Women of the Movement, originally expected on HBO a few years ago, was written by Marissa Jo Cerar (The Handmaid’s Tale), and produced by Jay-Z, Will Smith, and Aaron Kaplan (The Chi, A Million Little Things), CEO of Kapital Entertainment.

The series, expected to premiere in 2021, will document Till-Mobley’s journey of becoming a teacher and activist after the unjust and racially charged lynching and beating of her son.

Deadline reached out to ABC for comment: “Today marks 65 years since the tragic murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till. This limited series will shine a light on the determined pursuit of justice by Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley,” said Karey Burke, president of ABC Entertainment.

“Their story involves inconceivable heartbreak and brutality but also the enduring love of a mother and her son, galvanizing a movement that carved the path for today’s racial justice movement. We are honored to be bringing their story to ABC backed by an all-star producing team.”

The script for Women of the Movement was inspired by the book Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement by Devery S. Anderson.

Emmett Till

Emmett Till


Emmett Till

Emmett Till was a 14-year-old African American from Chicago who was brutally murdered in Money, Mississippi on August 28, 1955 after a white woman accused him of flirting with her in her family’s grocery store a few days earlier.

According to official counts, the situation began while Till was in Mississippi visiting family and told his cousins and friends that his girlfriend back home was white.

“Emmett’s African American companions, disbelieving him, dared Emmett to ask the white woman sitting behind the store counter for a date. He went in, bought some candy, and on the way out was heard saying, ‘Bye, baby’ to the woman. There were no witnesses in the store, but Carolyn Bryant—the woman behind the counter—later claimed that he grabbed her, made lewd advances and wolf-whistled at her as he sauntered out.”

A few days later, Bryant’s husband returned home from a business trip and was enraged after being told of the encounter. He went to the home Till was staying at and eventually forced him into the car and that was the last he was seen before his badly disfigured body was found a few days later.

Authorities were looking for a quick burial of Till’s body, but his mother Mamie Till-Mobley insisted it be sent back to Chicago. Bradley famously insisted on having an open-casket funeral so the world could see what racism had done to her son.

After the African American magazine Jet published a photo of Emmett’s body, the mainstream media picked up the story. Less than two weeks after the young body was brutally killed, his two killers (Bryant and his half brother J.W. Milam) were put on trial in a segregated Mississippi courthouse. As you might have expected, it didn’t take the all-white jury very long to come out and issue a verdict of “not guilty.”

According to History.com, “Many people around the country were outraged by the decision and also by the state’s decision not to indict Milam and Bryant on the separate charge of kidnapping.”

“Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him,” Carolyn Bryant Donham is quoted as saying in The Blood of Emmett Till by author Timothy Tyson. The book also broke the news that Bryant had “recanted her testimony related to the lynching of the 14-year-old black boy.”


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