Whoopi Goldberg, Danielle Deadwyler to appear in film about Emmett Till’s mother

·4 min read

“We have waited a very long time to bring this historically necessary important film to people,” Goldberg said.

Danielle Deadwyler has been tapped to portray Mamie Till-Mobley in a film about her fight for justice for her 14-year-old son, Emmett Till.

Whoopi Goldberg co-stars in the feature drama titled Till from director Chinonye Chukwu. Variety reports that Goldberg is set to play Till’s grandmother, Alma Carthan. She will also co-produce the project for MGM’s Orion Pictures, along with Keith Beauchamp, Barbara Broccoli, Thomas K. Levine, Michael JP Reilly and Frederick Zollo.

“We have waited a very long time to bring this historically necessary important film to people,” Goldberg said. “And as we watch the repression of American history when it comes to people of color it makes it even that more important. I couldn’t be with better people: Fred, Barbara, Chinonye, Keith, Michael, and Danielle.”

Whoopi's Animated Shorts - 2021 Tribeca Festival
Whoopi Goldberg at the 2021 Tribeca Festival on June 13, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Tribeca Festival)

Deadwyler gushed about being part of the Till cast.

“It is a gift to learn the legacy and intimacies of our ancestors, those familial and communal, as is the life of Mamie Till-Mobley, a public leader and mother of the movement,” she said.

As previously reported by theGRIO, on Aug. 28, 1955, Emmett Till was brutally murdered after a white woman falsely accused him of inappropriate behavior. Sixty-six years later, his lynching stands as a harrowing example of the evils of racism still alive today.

The Justice Department is continuing its investigation into Till’s murder. He would have turned 80 this year.

The department’s latest report on civil rights cold cases, released in June, lists three investigations dating back decades that were closed because witnesses or suspects have died, leads went nowhere or cases were too old to prosecute, but the Till case wasn’t among them.

Initially closed in 2007, the case was reopened after a 2017 book quoted a key figure in the case, Carolyn Bryant Donham, as saying she lied when she claimed that the 14-year-old Till grabbed her, whistled and made sexual advances.

The allegation enraged the white woman’s husband and another man, who were acquitted of murder but later admitted to the killing in a magazine interview.

The men beat the teenager beyond recognition and shot him in the head before dumping his body in the Tallahatchie River.

Three days later, a bruised and bloated corpse was recovered from the water, only identifiable as Emmett Till by a ring with his initials. His mother requested his body be transported to Chicago for a funeral service and burial.

theGRIO.com
Emmitt Till, Mamie Till-Mobley / Public Domain

Instead of having a closed-casket service to hide the severe damage done to her little boy, the original ‘mother of the movement’ decided to let the world see the disfigured, dead body.

The upcoming Till movie chronicles Mamie’s decision to allow Jet magazine to publish David Jackson’s funeral photos.

“I am charged with humility and great will to embody her life at such an integral moment of personal tragedy and political rebellion, a boon to the civil rights movement, and to represent the joy in the love and life shared between Mamie Till and her beloved Emmett Till,” Deadwyler said.

“I am grateful for the women who support me as the one to carry the labor of this embodiment and as an inheritor of such a lineage. Much gratitude for Chinonye Chukwu, Barbara Broccoli, Whoopi Goldberg, Alana Mayo, and Pam Abdy, amongst many others, for the undertaking we seek to uplift and transfigure with this film.”

In addition to directing the project, Chukwu also wrote the screenplay, based on a previous draft by Beauchamp.

“I’m honored to be partnering with MGM’s Orion Pictures and an incredible producing team in telling a story that will delve deeply into the humanities of Mamie and Emmett, the love and joy they shared, and the activist consciousness that grows within Mamie as she seeks justice for her son,” Chukwu said.

“I’m thrilled to be working with Danielle, a powerhouse of an actor, who will bring a brilliant complexity and groundedness to her portrayal of Mamie. And it is a dream come true to be working with the legendary Whoopi Goldberg, especially in telling this story,” she added.

This story contains additional reporting by theGRIO’s DeMicia Inman and the Associated Press.

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