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Filmmaker Hopes Emmett Till Movie Will Spur New Evidence and Will to Pursue Justice

The search for new evidence to bring legal accountability for those involved in the 1955 lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Mississippi during the Jim Crow era continues, filmmaker Keith Beauchamp says. He and other advocates for the prosecution of Carolyn Bryant Donham for her role in the Black boy’s death are frustrated that a Leflore County grand jury again declined to indict her, even after Beauchamp and Till family members found her unserved 1955 arrest warrant in June 2022 in the courthouse there.

But Beauchamp, the family and their supporters are still hopeful. Beauchamp, who is on the advisory board of the Mississippi Free Press, believes a large-budget film he co-produced and co-wrote will create the necessary buzz to generate more evidence.

“Till” comes out in theaters worldwide in October 2022 just weeks after the Mississippi grand jury again rejected efforts to finally prosecute the wife of one of Emmett Till’s murderers. It focuses heavily on Mamie Till Mobley’s activism to bring her son’s killers to justice. Beauchamp, who is from Louisiana, worked directly with her on the case before her 2003 death.

“The whole purpose of producing a Till movie is—of course—to bring awareness to the greatness of mother Mobley and her courageous decisions to make sure that justice prevails not only in a son’s case, but justice prevails for anyone who’s been failed by white supremacy,” Beauchamp told the Mississippi Free Press this week.

“The most important thing about producing a Till movie like this is to hope that it will shake the trees so that a justice-seeking atmosphere could be formed that will allow people to feel comfortable coming forward with new evidence on the case.”

Two white supremacists later admitting lynched Emmett Till on Aug. 28, 1955, after Carolyn Bryant, a white woman and the wife of murderer Roy Bryant, accused the boy of flirting with her. Till’s mother later held an open-casket funeral ceremony for her son in Chicago to show the world his unrecognizable face. After an all-white jury found the men who lynched him (including Roy Bryant) not guilty, the two men confessed to the crime to Look magazine, which paid $4,000 for the interview. Roy Bryant and accomplice J.W. Milam died without seeing justice for their crimes.

While searching the basement of the Leflore County Courthouse, in June 2022, family members with the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, in collaboration with Beauchamp, discovered the 1955 warrant for Carolyn Bryant’s arrest over her alleged involvement with Till’s kidnapping. A Leflore County grand jury, however, declined to indict the 88-year-old, whose name is now Carolyn Bryant Donham, last month.

“(Donham) should be brought to the court of law and set in front of a jury to answer to what transpired in 1955,” Beauchamp said this week.

The Mississippi Free Press reached out by email and phone call to the office of the Leflore County District Attorney W. DeWayne Richardson, who is Black, for comments on Aug. 30, 2022. He did return calls as of press time.

Read entire article at Mississippi Free Press