“Women of the Movement” is a six-episode anthology series based on Emmett Till’s murder in 1955 and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, who became an activist for his justice. It has only been 66 years since the horrific murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till, a Chicago teen, who died while on vacation in Mississippi visiting his great uncle. Witnesses said he whistled and had a chatty conversation with a white woman shop owner, which led to his kidnapping in the middle of the night. The husband and brother-in-law of the female shop owner and three others tortured and ultimately killed him.
A strong bond between a son and his mother starts the series with his challenging, debilitating birth. I would have liked to have seen perhaps another episode on Emmett’s younger years; his unique health situations could have been further explored, as other family home life situations with his father. At age fourteen, however, we are enlightened by the playful, adventurous nature of Emmett Till, a naïve teen. Single mom, Mamie Till-Mobley’s enduring love for her son stimulated a national movement that led the way for today’s racial justice movement. The tremendous performance by Adrienne Warren as Mamie Till-Mobley and Cedric Joe as Emmett Till is reason enough to view the series. Having viewed all six episodes, I’ll update this post in the next three weeks until its conclusion.
The first episode, “Mother and Son” directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (“Love & Basketball”), portrays Emmett’s distressing birth while fast-forwarding to his fourteenth year. A phone call to Mamie Till in Chicago informing her son that her son is missing concludes the episode.
The second episode, “Only Skin” directed by Tina Mabry (“Mississippi Damned”), shows the discovery of Emmett’s body and ends with a grieving mother’s decision to allow Jet magazine photographers to take and publish pictures of her son’s mangled face and in addition to hosting a public open-casket funeral which record numbers of people attended.
Mamie Till says, “People need to know,” and “Let the people see what they did to my boy.”
“Say his name,” an NAACP official advises Mamie Till when she hopes to bring publicity to her boy’s case. “Put his face in the papers.”
Quickly, it becomes crystal clear that the focal point is a Mother’s life journey to educate the world about the injustice of her son’s death.
“Women of the Movement” will be broadcast in three parts over three weeks, two episodes per night, on Jan. 6, 13, and 20. The parts will air at 7 p.m. Central Standard Time.
Sarah Knight Adamson© January 5, 2022
Update: Jan. 7, 2022
Los Angeles Times Greg Braxton writes:
“Women of the Movement” represents a breakthrough moment for broadcast television. Rarely has a major network explored in depth this violent moment in America’s racial history, and done so this unsparingly.
“We feel extremely strongly about the story, and why it’s such an important story to tell,” said Simran Sethi, executive vice president of development and content strategy for ABC Entertainment. “As a broadcast network, we have the ability and responsibility to reach the biggest audience possible. This project touches on a moment that is heartbreaking, but we really want to honor Mamie’s legacy and for people to see the truth.”
All Photos Courtesy of ABC.