Friday, August 28th, 2015 marks the 60th anniversary of a murder that galvanized the world. 14-year-old Chicagoan Emmett Till was brutally killed in Mississippi because he reportedly whistled at a white woman. Six decades later, remnants of the racial tensions and prejudice that fueled his death are still distressingly present in America. This week, various events will be held to commemorate Till's death, including several scheduled to take place in the deceased young man's home town.
Chaz Ebert, president of Ebert Digital, and author Christopher Benson will give a lecture entitled, "Black Lives Matter, Then and Now," at the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place, on Thursday, August 27th. Ebert is also an executive producer of the upcoming film, "Till," an adaptation of Benson's 2011 book, "Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America," which he co-authored with Till's mother, Mamie Till Mobley. At the lecture, Ebert and Benson will discuss the impact of Till’s murder on the country and the civil rights movement. Members of the Till and Mobley families will be in attendance.
This lecture will be among the anniversary events videotaped by Shatterglass Films, the production company that is producing "Till" along with Benson. Nate Kohn, Festival Director of the Roger Ebert Film Festival, will also be serving as an executive producer on the project. “Till” has the distinction of being the sole motion picture project sanctioned by the Estate of Mamie Till Mobley.
“Sixty years after Emmett’s murder, African Americans still disproportionately live in fear over the safety of our sons and daughters,” said Ebert. “We must shine a light on racially motivated violence so that solving this problem becomes a national priority. One of the reasons we wanted to make this movie is to tell Mrs. Mobley’s universal story of a mother’s love and how she turned a devastating heartbreak into action to save and inspire other children. Art has the power to infuse empathy and drive change to support movements like #blacklivesmatter.”
On August 28th, a motorcade processional will travel from Roberts Temple C.O.G.I.C., 4201 S. State St., where Till’s historic open casket funeral was held, to Burr Oaks Cemetery, 4400 W. 12th St., in Alsip, where both Emmett and his mother were laid to rest. Representatives of the Mobley Estate and local dignitaries will be among the participants, and Ebert has been asked by Till’s family to give remarks at the wreath-laying ceremony at Mother Mobley’s graveside. A dinner will conclude the official commemoration event, followed by youth empowerment activities on Saturday and a Sunday church service. These events will be hosted by the Mamie Till Mobley Foundation, and both the Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation and Shatterglass Films are among the sponsors.