The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till

by Keith Beauchamp

The Civil Rights Movement didn't just start with Martin Luther King Jr. or Rosa Parks. It started with Emmett Till.
The Untold Story of Emmett Till Film Poster
The Untold Story of Emmett Till Film Poster

Synopsis

Money, Mississippi in the year 1955 — Emmett Louis Till, a fourteen-year-old black Chicago youth was slain.

In this documentary directed by Keith Beauchamp, a family's agony is finally told revealing the truth surrounding the Till case by the people who were there.

Emmett Till who was visiting family in the Delta had the great misfortune of finding out what Southern Hospitality means when two white men, Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam decided to teach him a lesson for allegedly whistling at a white woman, Bryant's wife. Abducted, severely beaten, and finally thrown into the Tallahatchie River with a weight fastened around his neck with barbed wire, Emmett Till was murdered for one of the oldest forbidden taboos in America's history, addressing a white woman in public.

The murderers were later arrested, but were acquitted in a court of law by an all white, all male jury. Emmett did not die in vain. The death of Emmett Till sparked the black resistance of the South, soon to become the American Civil Rights Movement.

Credits/Bios

Keith Beauchamp, Director/Producer

Award-winning filmmaker Keith A. Beauchamp attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he studied criminal justice with the intention of becoming a civil rights attorney. As a young boy in Baton Rouge, Beauchamp had his share of run-ins with racism but it wasn't until an incident where he was assaulted by an undercover police officer after dancing with a white classmate at a party that he felt compelled to fight racism.

In the fall of 1997, Beauchamp relocated from Baton Rouge to New York. He quickly found work at Big Baby Films, a company founded by childhood friends that focused on music video production. Beauchamp honed his behind-the-camera skills during the day and spent his evenings doing research and reaching out to anyone who might have information on the Emmett Till case, a story told to Beauchamp when he was just 10 years old. He saw a Jet magazine that contained a picture of Emmett Till's dead body and was told the story behind Till's murder.

In 1999, Beauchamp founded Till Freedom Come Productions, a company devoted to socially significant projects that can both teach and entertain. He has devoted the past twenty-two years of his life telling the story of Emmett Till and has traveled extensively between New York, Chicago, and Mississippi to investigate the historic murder. Through his journey he tracked and spoke with witnesses who had never before spoken about the case, befriended Mamie Till Mobley — who took Beauchamp under her wing — worked with such influential figures as Muhammad Ali and Reverend Al Sharpton, all the while persistently lobbying both the State of Mississippi and the federal government to reopen the Emmett Till murder investigation.

On May 10th, 2004, the United States Department of Justice re-opened this 50 year-old murder case citing Beauchamp's documentary The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till as both a major factor in their decision and the starting point for their investigation. In May of 2005, Emmett's body was exhumed and in 2006, the FBI turned over their evidence to the appropriate district attorney in Mississippi. Sadly to say, in February 2007, a Mississippi Grand Jury made a decision to not indict the remaining suspects in the case. That same year, Beauchamp begin his collaboration with the FBI's new civil rights Cold Case initiative, producing documentaries on other unsolved civil rights murders in hopes of helping federal agents with their investigations that could lead to bringing remaining perpetrators to justice.

Keith Beauchamp has been featured on 60 Minutes, ABC World News Tonight  Person of the Week, Court TV, MSNBC, Good Morning America, CNN, BBC, as well as in hundreds of publications around the world including The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Associated Press, and the Chicago Sun Times. Beauchamp's past works include TV One's Murder in Black and White, hosted by Reverend Al Sharpton and Wanted Justice: Johnnie Mae Chappell for the History Channel.

Beauchamp is currently the executive producer and host of Investigation Discovery's crime reality series, The Injustice Files and the producer of the upcoming feature film Till. He is also a frequent lecturer at colleges and universities around the country.

Mamie Bradley speaking to anti-lynching rally after acquittal of men accused of killing her son, Emmett Till, in 1955. (Grey Villet — The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty)
Mamie Bradley speaking to anti-lynching rally after acquittal of men accused of killing her son, Emmett Till, in 1955. (Grey Villet — The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty)
Photo of Emmett Louis Till circa early 1950s
Photo of Emmett Louis Till circa early 1950s
Mamie Bradly leaning on her son's casket which is currently on exhibit at the National Museum of African American History
Mamie Bradly leaning on her son's casket which is currently on exhibit at the National Museum of African American History