The Civil Rights movement was one of the greatest and most important movements in history. It was a time when Black people said they were no longer going to let those who sought to oppress them to win. It was not without its challenges and there was so much pain and bloodshed along the way. As a person of color, I’ve seen and heard countless stories about the things that Black people endured. I’ve read books and had conversations with my own mother who herself lived through a lot of these moments and can still describe them in vivid detail. The murder of Emmett Till is one of them.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Emmett Till, let me fill you in. In 1955 while visiting family in Mississippi, Emmett was murdered by a mob of white men who had accused him of “offending” a white woman when he visited a local grocery store. He was brutally beaten, shot, stripped nude, and then his body was placed in the Tallahatchie River where it was found three days later weighted down by a fan blade, that was fastened around his neck with barbed wire. He was only fourteen years old.
Emmett Till’s story is not one a lot of people are familiar with, but they should be. That’s why I truly believe that everyone should be watching Women of the Movement.
Women of the Movement is a civil rights anthology that is currently airing on ABC. What is unique about this particular anthology is that it focuses on the women of the civil rights movement. The women of the civil rights movement are those unsung heroes we don’t often hear enough about. The first installment of the six-episode series centers on Mamie Till-Mobley, the mother of Emmett Till and is based on the book Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement by Devery S. Anderson.
Gina Prince-Bythewood along with Tina Mabry, Julie Dash, and Kasi Lemmons have joined forces to direct each episode. The two-hour premiere which showcased episodes one and two ‘Mother and Son’ and ‘Only Skin’ were directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and Tina Mabry respectively. Episode three will also be directed by Mabry. Dash directed episodes four and five, and Lemmons directed the sixth and final episode. The anthology from creator-writer Marissa Jo Cerar was produced by Jay-Z, Will Smith and Aaron Kaplan.
Adrienne Warren stars as Mamie Till-Mobley and she is just fantastic. Her portrayal of Mamie is done with elegance, and she truly showcases her resilience in such a beautiful way. The scene when Mamie goes to the train station to wait for Emmett’s body to arrive and when she’s at the funeral home and sees him for the first time, will break your heart.
The next time award season nominations start, she needs to be nominated. Stories like these need to be told especially in this day and age when lynching’s are still happening decades later (see Ahmaud Arbery). Despite the fact that we all know lynching is wrong, congress still has yet to pass the Emmett Till Antilynching Act. Also, with the continued fight to prevent critical race theory (which is basically that thing we learn in school called history) from being taught in schools, these projects need to keep being made.
Mamie-Till Mobley was a pillar of strength and bravery. She refused to let anyone stop her from showing the entire world what white people did to her child. Her choice to have an open casket was one of the bravest things. Until Women of the Movement came out, I only knew a minimal amount about Mamie-Till Mobley and her fight to get justice for her son. Episodes one and two show how much she fought for Emmett. From the moment he was born she never stopped fighting for him.
My hope for those who tune into this series is that they truly focus in on what they are seeing and that they learn something from it. While people watch it, I hope they don’t only see this as a story about civil rights. I hope they see it as a story about a mother’s love. Because that is ultimately what it’s about. I also hope that more stories are able to be told with this series because it is a show that will spark a lot of important conversations. We’re only on season one but there are so many more stories to tell.