It’s been 65 years to the day since the murder of Emmett Till, whose death became one of many catalysts for the mid-century civil rights movement. On this anniversary, ABC announced its decision to move forward on a project spotlighting the legacy of Till’s mother, Mamie Elizabeth Till-Mobley.
According to Deadline, the six-part series titled Women of the Movement will tell the story of Mobley’s journey to becoming an educator and activist as she sought justice for the racist murder of her son. The project was written by Marissa Jo Cerar and produced by Jay-Z, Will Smith, and Aaron Kaplan.
“Today marks 65 years since the tragic murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till. This limited series will shine a light on the determined pursuit of justice by Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till Mobley,” Karey Burke, president of ABC Entertainment, told Deadline. “Their story involves inconceivable heartbreak and brutality but also the enduring love of a mother and her son, galvanizing a movement that carved the path for today’s racial justice movement. We are honored to be bringing their story to ABC backed by an all-star producing team.”
Cerar’s script was inspired by the book Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement by Devery S. Anderson. Gina Prince-Bythewood is set to direct the first episode. The writers room kicked off remotely back in April, per Deadline, with the goal of making Women of the Movement an anthology “chronicling the civil rights movement as told by the women behind it.”
“I am thrilled to bring this project to television. It is unfortunately very timely, and my hope is to give the audience a chance to learn who Emmett Till really was – the boy, rather than the victim or the martyr – while also showcasing Mamie’s astonishing strength in the face of a mother’s worst nightmare,” said Cerar. “Telling Emmett and Mamie’s story is a responsibility I have not taken lightly since I began this journey last year, because this is more than a tragedy; it’s a story about a mother’s unwavering love of her son and her commitment to bettering the lives of all Black people. I can’t wait to start filming. With the brilliant Gina Prince-Bythewood as our director, we could not be in better hands.”
Mamie Till is known for her decision to have an open casket funeral for her son, who was mutilated by a group of white men in the Jim Crow South after a white woman named Carolyn Bryant Donham lied, claiming the 14-year-old harassed her. Mamie’s choice to show how Donham’s husband and others tortured her son is considered by many to be the tipping point of the civil rights movement.
“The story of Emmett Till and Mamie Till is not one I want to tell. It is a story I need to tell,” said Gina Prince-Bythewood. “I am grateful to be on this journey with incredible collaborators who are determined to honor this mother and son with truth, authenticity and humanity.”
The series is set to premiere in 2021.