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Family of Emmett Till talks upcoming Jay Z and Will Smith-produced miniseries

Emmett Till

Photo courtesy of and Emmett Till Foundation

News of Jay Z and Will Smith’s involvement in an upcoming HBO mini-series on the life of Emmett Till spread quickly with many excited to see the results of their input on the special.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Till’s family will have much to do with the broadcast.

Taking to Facebook to voice their take on the matter, the Mamie Till Mobley Memorial Foundation says it won’t be involved with the HBO project:

Thank you for the wonderful notes of support and public comments since the announcement of another Emmett Till movie project. Many are asking whether the family is involved in the recently announced HBO Emmett Till miniseries to be executive produced by Jay Z and Will Smith, or if they have contacted the family.

HBO once planned to produce the authorized Emmett Till story based on Mamie Till-Mobley’s book she worked on during the last six months of her life. It seems HBO now has decided to go a different route and move away from the book option and the story authorized by our family.

The lynching of Emmett Till is attracting significant media attention these days. Our hope is that we all might walk away from the reverence of this moment with a deeper appreciation of the meaning and historical context of Emmett Till in American History; why Mamie Till Mobley wanted so very much for the world to understand the many sacrifices that were made so that we could enjoy the freedom and opportunities we do today.

Mamie Till Mobley shared her son with the world with hopes that he would never be forgotten. She would be grateful that discussions of her son Emmett continue today in the context of present-day killings of unarmed young Black men. These issues are central to the commemorative events we plan surrounding the 60th Anniversary of Emmett’s lynching beginning August 28, 2015.

While we have not heard from the producers of the HBO series on Emmett Till, we certainly hope that they, too, might join in these enlightening and inspiring events–events that will reveal the Emmett Till story as more than just a compelling narrative, but also as an essential part of our cultural awareness.

Airickca Gordon-Taylor,
Executive Director, Mamie Till Mobley Memorial Foundation
Till Family

In related news, the Mamie Till Mobley Memorial Foundation will sponsor the Emmett Till 60th Anniversary Commemoration Weekend in Chicago, August 28-30.

For more information on the weekend’s festivities, please visit