Will Smith and Jay Z Are Producing a Miniseries About Emmett Till
The 1955 murder of the African-American teenager from Chicago at the hands of white men in Mississippi helped to spark the Civil Rights movement.
In 1955, fourteen-year-old Emmett Till was visiting family in Mississippi. He entered Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market in the small town of Money, where he encountered co-owner Carolyn Bryant. What happened next is still in dispute, but its horrifying aftermath is not: Till either whistled at Bryant, whistled to alleviate his stuttering while asking for bubble gum, or made a verbal advance at Bryant. Whatever happened inside of the store, Till was kidnapped by Bryant’s husband, who—along with his half-brother J.W. Milam—tortured and eventually murdered the teenager. Till’s mother, Mamie, insisted that her son’s casket be open at his funeral, and the image of Till’s beaten body, as printed by Jet and the Chicago Defender, were instrumental in galvanizing the Civil Rights movement. Bryant and Milam managed to escape punishment despite Milam’s eventual confession.
Now, with the United States once again being forced to confront its hidden and overt systemic racism, Jay Z and Will Smith have partnered with HBO to produce a miniseries about Till’s murder and its aftermath. Details are scarce, and the project is still in need of a writer, but it’s described as being in active development. Producers Aaron Kaplan and James Lassiter are also attached to the project.