With the Movie ‘Till,’ Mamie Till-Mobley’s Quest to Educate the World Marches On

After 14-year-old Emmett Till was kidnapped, severely beaten and killed in the Mississippi Delta on Aug. 28, 1955, his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, made the courageous decision to reveal her son’s corpse for all to see.

Till-Mobley’s choice allowed audiences to bear witness to an act of racial violence, and the new film “Till” promises to unveil the complete story of how she responded to her son’s brutal death.

However, when a theatrical poster for “Till” was released in the summer of 2022, some people immediately denounced the film on Facebook and Twitter. Critics accused the project of profiting off Black pain and argued that there were other accounts of the Black experience worthy of cinematic representation.

“I’m tired of seeing award winning movies about our people being torn apart,” one commenter wrote.

Others questioned the purpose of television shows and movies about Emmett Till when people were still trying—and failing—to secure justice for his death.

Yet these reactions insinuate that Till’s story is significant only because of the horror and trauma attached to it: the gruesome death of a Black teenager, the public grief of a Black mother and the unsettling images of a lynched Black body.

I understand why there is some skepticism about the intent of “Till,” which comes on the heels of ABC’s miniseries “Women of the Movement,” the docuseries “Let the World See” and the podcast series “Reclaimed,” all of which were released in 2022 and explore the legacies of Emmett Till and his mother.

But those who presume that projects like these are pointless or redundant have likely never contemplated the wishes—nor followed the career—of Mamie Till-Mobley.

[embedded content]The trailer for ‘Till.’ A Keeper of History

As a scholar of writing, rhetoric and digital studies who teaches courses about the Emmett Till case and writes about Mamie Till-Mobley’s activism and legacy, I believe that she wanted as many people as possible to know her son’s tragic story and learn from his death.

When Till-Mobley famously decided to exhibit Till’s corpse by holding an open-casket funeral, she did so not only to expose racial hatred in

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