Updated: Apr 12, 2022
Obama and Common join Rev. Wheeler Parker, Emmett Till’s cousin, who witnessed the abduction, Ollie Gordon and Amos Smith, Thelma Wright, Mamie Till-Mobley’s cousin, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Lent Rice, an FBI agent on the team that reopened the investigation more than 50 years later, Dan Wakefield, a journalist who covered Emmett Till’s murder trial and Betty Pearson, who was in the courtroom for the trial. Let The World See will chronicle Mamie Till-Mobley’s fierce quest for justice that sparked the civil rights movement after her son Emmett Till’s brutal murder, inspiring many including icons like Rosa Parks to stand up boldly for their rights. It will examine her fight to bring her son’s body home to Chicago and her pivotal yet heartbreaking decision to have an open-casket funeral for the public to see, also tracing her journey back to the Jim Crow South to face her son’s murderers in court. The program will also illustrate how the Till family’s legacy has continued following her passing in 2003, remaining active in the movement as the deaths of Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Ms. Breonna Taylor and others sparked protests around the country. The project also features appearances from authors Angie Thomas, Christopher Benson, John Edgar Wideman and Michael Eric Dyson who will hold a special reading of his “Letter to Emmett Till” at the scene of the crime. The tragic death of Emmett Till and the strength and resolve of his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, catalyzed the modern civil rights movement. A national park site will ensure that their story is never forgotten.
In August 1955, 14-year-old Emmett traveled from Chicago to Money, Mississippi, to visit relatives. A few days after his arrival, a white woman named Carolyn Bryant accused him of making sexual advances toward her. Bryant’s husband Roy and his half-brother J.W. Milam later kidnapped Emmett at gunpoint, and Emmett’s disfigured, brutally beaten body was later found in the nearby Tallahatchie River. On hearing the news of Emmett’s murder, his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, demanded that officials return his body to their home in Chicago for the funeral and that the casket remain open during the viewing and service, insisting, “Let the world see what I’ve seen.” Mamie’s efforts to publicize the murder and its injustice forced people around the country and the world to confront the brutality of racism, sparking international outrage. An all-white, all-male jury acquitted Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam of all charges. In a magazine interview, both men later admitted to the murder. Mamie Till-Mobley devoted herself to public speaking, connecting with other mothers of slain Black children, and teaching students history and confidence until her death in 2003.