A documentary examining the 1955 murder of a 14-year-old boy from Chicago while visiting relatives in Mississippi, and the broad impact of his death, his funeral, and the subsequent trial and acquittal of his white killers.

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(as Marcia A. Smith), (contributing writer)
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Cast

Episode credited cast:
...
Narrator
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Pat Antici ...
Kidnapper
Oudie Brown ...
Himself
Harry Caise ...
Himself, Mortician
Magnolia Cooksey-Mathious ...
Herself, Emmett Till's Classmate
Tony Czech ...
Kidnapper
Clara Davis ...
Herself, Mississippi Resident
Warren Hampton ...
Himself, Mississippi Resident
Richard Heard ...
HImself, Emmett Till's Classmate
John Herbers ...
Himself, Journalist
Rose Jourdain ...
Herself, Journalist
Moses Newson ...
Himself, Journalist
Wheeler Parker ...
Himself, Emmett Till's Cousin
Betty Pearson ...
Herself, Mississippi Resident
Willie Reed ...
Himself, Mississippi Resident
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Storyline

A documentary examining the 1955 murder of a 14-year-old black boy from Chicago while visiting relatives in Mississippi, and the broad impact of his death, his funeral, and the subsequent trial and acquittal of his accused killers. Written by Anonymous

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20 January 2003 (USA)  »

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Horrifying but a Must-See
10 February 2008 | by (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

This is not a true documentary as it's a little short (it's part of PBS's American Experience series), but it's a good introduction to an horrific episode in American history. It's difficult for younger Americans to appreciate just how brutal the Southern way of life was for blacks before civil rights, and Mississippi was the worst. It's truly unfathomable that grown men could somehow justify kidnapping, beating and murdering a young boy, and that a jury could find them innocent despite overwhelming evidence. (The two men later confessed to Look magazine, and of course were protected by double jeopardy.) Emmett Till's murder could've been swept under the rug, but his mother decided to have an open casket viewing, and Jet magazine ran photos of the body. The pictures galvanized the world, and the spark was lit for righteous Americans of all colors to try to change the unwritten code of black persecution. As said, it's a little short on details--the PBS website has some good features that flesh the case out a little. Good interviews, and the contextual information is useful. Be warned, there are some upsetting pictures of lynchings and Emmett Till's body (which are necessary to appreciate the brutality of this system). This is a story that needs to be told over and over--we have made a great deal of progress but the lynchings of Matthew Shepherd and James Byrd demonstrate we are not there yet.


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