Though many of us know the name Emmett Till, it was his mother Mamie Till-Mobley who made sure that we would.
After the abduction and lynching of her son in 1955, Till-Mobley became a teacher and civil rights activist. Now her life and influence is the focus of ABC’s new limited series, “Women of the Movement”.
The Rev. Wheeler Parker, Emmett Till’s cousin who was in the Mississippi home the night Till was kidnapped, served as a consultant for the series. He says much of the series accurately portrays the story of Emmett Till, from what took place at the market with the white woman he was accused of offending, to the abduction, and later the lynching, but he says some of the scenes were dramatized.
“It brought back a lot of memories, 66 years ago, and I can’t forget how Mississippi was, what I see is where we came from and how much we have to do, so much of it was true to the way things really happened,” said the Rev. Parker, “Of course, some of it I was not privy to, or like them (the boys in the series) challenging him (Emmett Till) to go in to see the lady that that never happened as far as I’m concerned”
ABC picked up the rights to the book, “Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime that Changed America” for the series. The book was written by Mamie Till-Mobley and Northwestern University professor and author Christopher Benson.
“It was really gratifying to see her story taken to the screen, because this is something that we had envisioned together when we sat down in 2002, we worked together for the last six months of her life to make sure that her story would be preserved in book form,” said Benson, “she (Mamie Till-Mobley) was determined to have the book done, and fortunately I was able to complete that even after her death, but then the other part of this was to share that story with the widest possible audience, and so it would be so gratifying to her to know that this finally was done.”
After the lynching of Emmett Till, Till-Mobley became a teacher and activist, traveling the country to educate people about what happened to her son.
“I think what we keep seeing about Mamie, and you can’t do it enough, is that in spite of what happened to her, she was not a bitter person, that speaks volumes, and the way she went about her life and trying to serve humanity,” said the Rev. Parker.
Mamie Till-Mobley died in January of 2003 at 81 years old.