Monday, May 23, 2022
‘Killing of Emmett Till’ — why his murder still rings in our ears!
By Lapacazo Sandoval, Contributing Writer
Published March 18, 2021

Emmett Till

The new short film “Killing of Emmett Till” is causing the right conversations in communities across the world. For some, it’s a reminder and for others, it’s an education on what happened to Emmett Till.

Emmett Till was a 14-year-old child. A 14-year-old African American, child who was lynched — brutally murdered in Mississippi, in 1955, after being accused of offending a White woman in her family’s grocery store.

Emmett. Till — say his name over and over again because this 14-year-old child’s murderers were acquitted. This is just one example of thousands of how “justice” works for our people drawing attention to the long history of violent persecution of African Americans in the United States.


Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Emmett was visiting his relatives near Money, in the Mississippi Delta region. Just a regular, summer vacation. That’s how it started. The 14-year-old child dared to have a conversation with the 21-year-old wife of the owner (Carolyn Bryant). What happened inside is a work of fiction in my humble opinion. This child was accused of flirting with or whistling at Bryant.

Several nights after the “incident” in the store, Bryant’s husband Roy and his half-brother J.W. Milam were armed when they went to Till’s great-uncle’s house and abducted the boy. These murderous monsters took this 14-year-old, innocent child away and beat him. Then these heinous poor excuses for a human being mutilated Emmett before shooting him in the head and sinking his body in the Tallahatchie River. Three days later, Till’s body was discovered and retrieved from the river.

Till’s broken body was returned to Chicago where his mother insisted on a public funeral service with an open casket for all the world to see. It’s 2021 and the short film “Killing of Emmett Till” brings the story back to light for an examination of how something this terrible happened to an unarmed, innocent African American child and why the murders of our people continue.

Here is what “Killing of Emmett Till”’s director-screenwriter Denn Pietro had to share about why he made this short film.

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL: Why did the storytellers want to tell this story?

Scene where Emmett Till’s mother opens the box to see what was done to her boy. L-to-R: Anthony E. McNeil as A.A. Raynor, Chevonne Wilson as Mamie Till and Shawn L. Neal as Gene Mobley.

DENN PIETRO: While putting together a video for the national NAACP dinner some years back, people unanimously asked about one particular photo that I used. A photo of Emmett Till. Some people didn’t know who he was or the story behind the photo taken from his funeral. In preparing to send some links about Emmett to those interested, I found myself shocked to learn what I thought I knew about Emmett Till was not the whole truth and sometimes often wasn’t correct at all.

I read everything I could and watched every documentary, but I was bothered by the fact that there was no film about Emmett Till to bring the story to life. After numerous trips to Mississippi, I thought, “Hey, why not me! to tell that story?!” and finally bring Emmett’s story to life in a way that is accessible to everybody.


LAS: What do you want the viewer/audience to take away from this film?

DP: I hope the audience learns something that they didn’t know about the Emmett Till story and clears up some of the many misconceptions many of us thought were true for so long. I love that the film has ignited a curiosity to research more about Emmett Till and have discussions with others about him and the film.

I hope the viewer is moved by emotions, feels the story, and has a reaction to what they see. If that reaction is a fraction of the same reaction people had in 1955 that sparked the Civil Rights Movement, maybe those same feelings can propel the movement further today. The fact that the world has to continually repeat the fight against injustice is disheartening as things haven’t moved forward enough.

Emmett Kidnapping scene. Ben Will as Emmett Till

I hope the audience watches ‘Killing of Emmett Till’ and can’t tell the difference between our film with an all-volunteer cast and crew filmed with no budget in the Detroit area versus a Hollywood film with a large budget shot on location in Mississippi.

In addition to the FBI report itself, below are some links we provide in our film description on YouTube which helps answer many of the misconceptions about the film facts such as Emmett whistling; the picture of a white girl in Emmett’s wallet; Emmett’s stutter; the number of people involved in the kidnapping, torture, and murder; what Carolyn Bryant lied about; the changing stories of witnesses at the store; etc.

For more information about the facts of this film, please visit the links below:







YouTube link to film:


Categories: Entertainment | Movies
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