Is one boy’s death still relevant to our existence fifty-five years after he was killed? Keith Beauchamp thinks so, and he’s on a mission to show the world why.
Stories have been told since the beginning of time. They have served as a way to connect with and understand the world around us. Some are told because they carry a deeper message than any one person can convey. Others are not told because of trepidation or fear of what might happen if it goes passed the wrong person’s lips and gets exposed to the open air.
Emmett Till died in 1955, after being brutally attacked and thrown into a river by two men near his great-uncle’s home in Mississippi. His story never made it passed his own lips–nor his own consciousness. Now–on the 60th anniversary of his death–filmmaker Keith Beauchamp is looking to make a feature film that chronicles Till’s life–as well as how and why people were first impacted by his death.
The project, which Beauchamp is calling MyTillMoment, is inspired by a photo released by the press shortly after the initial attack. The photo depicts Till’s severely deformed face at the hands of his perpetrators. It was reportedly never edited or even pulled from the newspapers and tabloids. The fact that editors did not take the initiative to retouch or leave the photo out altogether apparently caused outrage within Mississippi, which led to even more anger and distain. In the video above, Beauchamp explains why this piece of evidence is vital in moving forward with the making of his film.
“We’re asking everyone to send in video diaries of the first time they heard about Emmett. [The photo] will help keep Emmitt’s undying spirit alive, and it will help keep the MyTillMoment movement alive. We don’t want to do this alone. It’s our shared responsibility to tell his story in a way that he’ll be remembered.”
One has to assume that in 1955, an act like this made headlines because of its sheer shock. As history tells us, things like things were not uncommon–but at the same time, people weren’t as “numb” to these types of incidents as people are in the modern era. So for this to be brought to light in 2015–fifty-five years after Emmett’s death–shows us there’s still work to be done.
It’s a call to action–a plea to the common man to perhaps erase the line of violence between then and now. This is no less horrific than the tragic death of Freddie Gray or Treyvon Martin. The only difference is the eras in which they occurred, which gives way to how they were handled.
If anything, this is a call to the modern male to take everything he’s learned about goodness and civility–and spread it into the next generation.