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On The BOOKS
The Untold Story Of Emmett Louis Till (Official Trailer)
Keith A. Beauchamp (Director)
On August 19th, 1955, one day before Till went to visit his uncle Wright in Mississippi, his mom gave him the ring of Till’s father (Louis Till), which later became the key to identifying the dead body. On the next day, Mrs. Till said goodbye to her son without knowing that was the last time she saw the boy alive.
TILL WE’RE FREE (Emmett Till movie)
J.W. Milam – Sean Baligian
Roy Bryant – Alan Canning
John Whitten – Harry Wetzel
William Bradford Huie – Paul Lang
Mamie Till – Chevonne Wilson
Emmett Till – Ben Will
“Too-Tight” – Henry Frost III
Mose Wright – Roberto Warren
Elizabeth Wright – Lulu Dahl
Carolyn Bryant – Leah Smith
Juanita Milam – Jessica Danley
Leslie – Craig Bentley
Elmer – Bob Liegl
Ruthie May – Alana Walker
Simeon Wright – Tai Terry
Maurice Wright – Miles Bond
Henry – Blake Moss
Osa – Nardo Gilliam
Hubert – Stephen Sussman
Melvin – Marc Myers
A.A. Raynor – Anthony E. McNeil
Gene Mobley – Shawn L. Neal
Father – Eddie Caldwell
Son – Blake Osley
Willie Reed – Craig Oliver
Amandy Bradley – Debra White-Hunt
Secretary – Anna Fleury
Oudie Brown – Jalen Spight
Cornfield Victim – Edward “Eddie” Dunbar II
Boy with Shoe – Malchi Bradford
Wolf Whistle – Jason Kupser
Toddler Voice in Store – Canyon Pietro
Boy on Bike – Stephen Holland
Director – Denn Pietro
Writer – Director
Producers – Rita Liegl & Stephanie Shum
Director of Photography – Walter Lin
KILLING OF EMMETT TILL (2020)
a film by Denn Pietro
KILLING OF EMMETT TILL tells the shocking confession of two brothers acquitted for the murder of a 14-year-old boy for whistling at a white woman in 1955 – but they didn’t tell the whole truth.
Let the World See
The docuseries chronicles Ms. Mamie Till-Mobley’s fierce quest for justice that sparked the civil rights movement after her son Emmett Till’s brutal murder, inspiring heroes like Ms. Rosa Parks and others to stand up boldly for their rights.
and Whoopi Goldberg
Keith Beauchamp, p.g.a.
Barbara Broccoli, p.g.a.
Fredrick Zollo, p.g.a.
Chicago, IL (2008)
A World Premiere
The now legendary story of Emmett Till is believed by many to be the start of the modern civil rights movement of the 1950s and remains one of the most pivotal incidents in a monumental era. This world premiere, part history, and part ghost story is a jazz integration of past and present, the living and dead, factual accounts, and creative interpolation. Chicago author Ifa Bayeza captures the powerful truths at the heart of the story, creating a soaring work of music, brilliant poetry, and theatricality.
The opera is produced in association with Opera Noire International and The Harlem Chamber Players.
BY MARGARET HALL
MARCH 07, 2022
“Emmett Till, A New American Opera, conceived by white playwright and librettist Clare Coss and composer Mary D. Watkins, will have its world premiere on March 23 with an encore performance on March 24 at the Gerald W. Lynch Theatre at John Jay College. Both performances begin at 7 PM. The production is co-presented by John Jay College, Opera Noire International, The Harlem Chamber Players, and Harlem Arts Alliance.
The opera will star mezzo-soprano Lucia Bradford as Mamie Till, tenor Robert Mack as Emmett Till, mezzo-soprano Abigail Wright as Roanne Taylor, soprano Amanda Rose Austin as Carolyn Bryant, baritone Justin Ryan as Roy Bryant, contralto Karmesha Peake as Aunt Lizzy, and baritone Markell Reed as Maurice Wright. Malcolm Merriweather serves as chorus master, with Kyle Walker as rehearsal pianist.
Conducted by 2021 Pulitzer Prize winner Tania León, the production centers around the murder of Emmett Till and explores themes of social justice, the flaws within the justice system, white silence and allyship, racial inequality, and the complexities of the human experience.
Based on Coss’ award-winning 2013 play Emmett, Down in My Heart, the opera reimagines the events around the tragic murder of Till, a 14-year-old African-American boy from Chicago who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955. Following his mother’s brave decision to have an open casket funeral so that the world would see what was done to her son, the lynching of Emmett Till became a catalyst for the Civil Rights movement and stands as a turning point in the racial reckoning of this country.
In the opera, the story is approached through the lens of Roanne Taylor, a young white woman who teaches high school science in Drew, Mississippi. Roanne is against Jim Crow laws, segregation, and the racial inequality that she sees around her but remains silent. She is the opera’s only fictional character and represents what Martin Luther King Jr. called the ultimate tragedy, “the silence of the good people.”
Featuring both a Black Chorus and a white Chorus, Emmett Till weaves the horrific murder of Till with Mamie Till-Mobley’s transformation from private citizen to activist, Uncle Mose Wright’s bold decision to break the Delta code and testify at the trial, and Roanne Taylor’s journey toward a sense of responsibility.
The story of Emmett Till has a personal significance for Coss who was attending Louisiana State University at the time and was haunted by his murder. Decades later, she was compelled to find a way to honor his mother’s ongoing fight to “keep telling Emmett’s story.”
“Emmett Till was murdered not far upriver from where I was a junior at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge,” shares Cross. “No one in my largely white world would talk about what happened, a child brutally tortured and lynched—the breakdown of justice. White supremacy and Jim Crow ruled. Over the years, the pain of Emmett’s murder continued to plague my heart. In 1992, I awoke one morning with a spiritual mandate to write a play about Emmett Till. I approached writing about him through my conviction that this tragedy is shared, in the way the tragic history of this country is shared. White people as perpetrators and witnesses of white supremacy have a stake in this story. I want people to understand that it was not so long ago. Emmett Till is in our lifetime. He is in MY lifetime. I want people to understand the grave parallels between the world over 60 years ago to today’s world, from Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin to Daunte Wright. It is still happening and we must continue to shed light on these stories. I am reminded of Mamie Till-Mobley’s words, ‘The world must see what was done to my son. The world must help me tell the story.’ And so we will.”
After the debut of the play, Emmett, Down in My Heart, Coss was encouraged by musician friends Lucille Field and Patsy Rogers to translate the play into a libretto. They introduced Coss and Watkins and, together, the two began their creative journey, followed by five years of development, workshops, and three sing-throughs to bring the opera to life. For Watkins, this project is also intensely personal and has been a labor of love:
“Setting music to Clare’s Emmett Till libretto has been an exciting challenge for me,” says Watkins. “I remember when Emmett Till was murdered, and the horror and sadness of it that affected me so deeply. I grew up in Colorado yet knew first-hand about discrimination. The difference between my southern sisters and brothers and me was that I was one Black person among 50 or 60 white people at any given time every day of the week except Sunday. I lived in a white neighborhood where some of my neighbors were blatant racists…and I dealt with that pain through drawing, storytelling, and music. I never expected that I would write an opera about Emmett Till’s lynching, but I am deeply grateful that I have been given this opportunity to examine one of the great tragedies of the 20th century. I am an eclectic composer, and this opera has given me the space to exercise a wide range of musical expression to establish empathy for the characters and the complex emotional texture of the period.”
Whose song is this to sing? A new opera about Emmett Till faces scrutiny and protest.
Critics of the collaboration between a Black composer and a White librettist say they’ve heard enough.
[ “But the production, with two, sold out shows on March 23 and 24, is drawing criticism. An online petition is urging the show be canceled, saying Coss centered the play around her “white guilt…her white self and her white feelings” and that she is “more concerned with showing the audience that ‘not all White people are bad’ than she is with the ongoing fight for racial justice.”More than 12,000 people have signed online petitions.
“White perspectives should not be centered in the stories of lynched Black children,” said John Jay student Mya Bishop. “That’s not my only problem with the play … It is still unacceptable to generate profit from the likeness of a deceased child, and that child’s now-deceased mother, both of whom are unable to receive justice.”
Watkins said she’s proud to work with Coss on this production.
“I think it’s very interesting and important that it is a White woman and a Black woman, and we’re pretty much in the same age group. We both were alive when this happened and we’ve seen a lot,” she said.” ]
“The show focuses on Till’s mother and a fictional character the creator said is “a white woman who represents the people who care but are silent” — but opponents say the creator is “more concerned with showing the audience that ‘not all White people are bad'”
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
Not so long ago
When a young boy from Chicago Town
Walk in a southern door
This boy’s fateful tragedy
We should all remember well
The color of his skin was Black
And his name was Emmett TillSome men they dragged him to a barn
And there they beat him up
They said they had a reason
But I disremember what
They tortured him and did some things
Too evil to repeat
There was screamin’ sounds inside the barn
There was laughin’ sound out on the street They dragged his body to a gulch
Amidst a bloodred rain
And they threw him in the waters wide
To cease his screaming pain
The reason that they killed him there
And I’m sure it ain’t no lie
He was a Black skin boy
So he was born to die And so to stop these United States
Of yelling for a trial
Two brothers they confessed that they
Killed poor Emmett Till
But on the jury there were men
Who helped the brother commit this awful crime
And so this trial was a mockery
But nobody seemed to mindI saw the morning paper
But I could not bear
To see the brothers smiling
On that courthouse stairs
For the jury found them innocent
And the brothers they went free
Whilt Emmett’s body floats the foam
Of a Jim Crow southern seaIf you can’t speak out against this kind of thing
A crime that’s so unjust
Your eyes are filled with deadman’s dirt
Your mind is filled with dust
Your arms and legs, they must be in shackles and chains
And your blood it must cease to flow
For you’d let this human race
Sink so God-awful low
This song is just a reminder
To tell my fellow man
That this kind of thing still lives today
In that ghost-robed Klu Klux Klan
But if we all then think alike
If we give all we can give
We’d make this Great land of ours
An even greater place to live.
Bob Dylan – Death Of Emmett Till
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