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AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Murder Of Emmett Till

Stream now or tune in Monday, Oct. 5, 2020 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV + Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 10 p.m. on KPBS 2

Emmett Till (undated photo)

Credit: Courtesy of Mamie Till Mobley

Above: Emmett Till (undated photo)

Available to stream on demand now!

"The Murder Of Emmett Till," directed by Stanley Nelson, takes viewers back 65 years to August 1955, when a 14-year-old African American boy whistled at a white woman in a grocery store in Money, Mississippi.

Emmett Till, a teen from Chicago, didn't understand that he had broken the unwritten laws of the Jim Crow South until three days later, when on August 28 two white men dragged him from his bed in the dead of night, beat him brutally and then shot him in the head.

Trailer | The Murder Of Emmett Till

Emmett Till's murder and the acquittal of his killers mobilized the Civil Rights Movement. Aired: 07/21/20

Although his killers were arrested and charged with murder, they were both acquitted quickly by an all-white, all-male jury.

Shortly afterward, the defendants sold their story, including a detailed account of how they murdered Till, to a journalist. The murder and the trial horrified the nation and the world and helped mobilize the Civil Rights movement.

Emmett Till's Mother Speaks

No one ever served prison time for the killing of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy from Chicago. But his murder, and the trial and acquittal of his killers, sent a powerful message, and his tragic murder spurred the Civil Rights Movement. His mother, Mamie Till Mobley, explains, "When people saw what happened to my son, men stood up who had never stood up before. People became vocal who had never vocalized before."

Three months after his body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River, the Montgomery bus boycott began. The film uncovered new eyewitnesses to the crime and helped prompt the U.S. Department of Justice to reopen the case.

Chapter 1 | The Murder Of Emmett Till

The murder of a 14-year-old black boy and the subsequent trial horrified the nation and the world. Emmett Till's death was a spark that helped mobilize the Civil Rights movement. Aired: 08/27/20

Emmett Till's Funeral

At a church on the South side of Chicago, thousands paid tribute to Emmett Till by attending his funeral. It seemed as if all of Chicago was there, and the reaction of blacks was visceral. Aired: 01/20/03

The World Learns of Emmett Till

50,000 people in Chicago saw Emmett Till's corpse with their own eyes. Photos of Till were published in newspapers and magazines, and even white Americans were stunned by the brutality of the murder. Aired: 01/20/03

Watch On Your Schedule:

This film is available to stream on demand through July 27, 2023.

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Photo credit: Courtesy of Mamie Till Mobley

Emmett Till with his mother, Mamie Till, early 1950s.

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