Tag: Emmett Till

President Barack Obama Signs Emmett Till Bill To Reopen Unsolved Civil Rights Cases

President Barack Obama (photo via vibe.com/Getty Images)

article via vibe.com

President Barack Obama signed legislation earlier this month that allows the FBI and the Department of Justice to reopen unsolved civil rights cases. Initially titled Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes, the updated version of this bill now allows both agencies to bring to justice those who committed crimes prior to 1970.

Named after Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy from Chicago who was taken from his bed in the middle of night, beat and shot by two white men for allegedly whistling at a white woman, the Justice Department is being encouraged to reach out to “activists, advocates and academics working on these issues.”

Other departments who will aid in resolving these cases include the Cold Case Justice Initiative at Syracuse University, Northeastern University School of Law’s Civil Rights and and Restorative Justice Project, The Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project at Emory University.

To read full article, go to: POTUS Signs Emmett Till Bill To Reopen Unsolved Civil Rights Cases

Landmark Civil Rights Documentary “Eyes on the Prize, Parts I and II” Starts Re-airing Tonight at 9pmEST on WORLD Channel

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Public television’s WORLD Channel will present the complete Emmy-Award winning Eyes on the Prize I and II starting tonight, January 17, 2016. A 30-minute special feature, Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now, will launch the encore presentation of this historic two-part series and explore its impressive relevance today.

Eyes on the Prize, created by Executive Producer Henry Hampton, is a critically-acclaimed and in-depth documentary series on civil rights in America.  With the current national spotlight on issues of race and inequality—as well as the marking of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, and the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott—the time is right for this series about the nation’s civil rights history to be front and center as part of an essential dialogue.

America continues to struggle with the recurring crisis of race-related violence; Eyes on the Prize and II can provide perspective for a new generation and be a touchstone for citizens who lived through the decades that the films depict. Journalist and writer Al Letson hosts new introductions to each episode.

“We are elated that this landmark series will once again be broadcast across the country, reaching millions of viewers—many of whom may never have seen the original airing. The series focuses on solutions to the conflicts that we face today.  Eyes on the Prize shows leadership, grass roots organization and personal sacrifice as the recipe that can create lasting change.  It is our hope the television programs together with our comprehensive outreach campaign will spark a national dialogue about this critical topic,” says Judi Hampton, president of Blackside, and sister of the late Henry Hampton (1940-1998).

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The WORLD Channel presentation, made possible with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Ford Foundation, includes Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now, a new, original 30-minute special, which will lead into the premiere January 17 of Eyes on the Prize, setting the groundbreaking documentary series in the context of today.  Narrated by music artist Aloe BlaccEyes on the Prize: Then and Now features Eyes on the Prize filmmakers, present-day activists, human rights leaders, and scholars. The special revisits key historical moments and explores commonalities with current national events.

“The WORLD Channel is honored to be presenting this signature series,” says Chris Hastings, Executive Producer of the WORLD Channel. “It’s a history that must be understood.  With Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now, we ask questions and draw comparisons about the struggle to achieve equality today. As conflicts and challenges continue, Eyes on the Prize remains essential viewing for all Americans.”

As part of the initiative, WGBH Education is developing a digital resource collection supporting Eyes on the Prize and civil rights themes in history and social studies curricula, to help the civil rights movement come alive for students today. This collection will be available on PBS LearningMedia in January.

Based at WGBH Boston, the national public media producer, WORLD Channel delivers the best of public television’s original documentary films and news to US audiences through local public television stations, including America ReFramed, AfroPopPOV and Local, USA.  The special Eyes on the Prize presentation also will be made available to all public television stations for local broadcasts (check listings) after the WORLD premiere.

EYES ON THE PRIZE I and II

Almost three decades since its premiere, the groundbreaking series Eyes on the Prize I and II will return to PBS this January.  Eyes on the Prize I will premiere on The WORLD Channel six consecutive Sundays – January 17, 24, 31 and February 7, 14, 21 at 9:00 p.m. (EST). Eyes on the Prize II will air eight consecutive Sundays—February 28, March 6, 13, 20, 27, and April 3, 10, 17 at 9:00 p.m. (EST).

Produced by Blackside, Eyes on the Prize tells the definitive story of the Civil Rights era from the point of view of the ordinary men and women whose extraordinary actions launched a movement that changed the fabric of American life and embodied a struggle whose reverberations continue to be felt today.  This multi-part Academy Award nominated documentary is the winner of numerous Emmy Awards, a George Foster Peabody Award, an International Documentary Association Award, and a Television Critics Association Award.

Through contemporary interviews and historical footage, Eyes on the Prize I and II, traces the civil rights movement from the Montgomery bus boycott to the Voting Rights Act; from early acts of individual courage through the flowering of a mass movement and its eventual split into factions.  The late Julian Bond, political leader and civil rights activist, narrates.  Descriptions of each episode follow below:

Continue reading “Landmark Civil Rights Documentary “Eyes on the Prize, Parts I and II” Starts Re-airing Tonight at 9pmEST on WORLD Channel”

Will Smith and Jay Z To Produce HBO Mini-Series About Emmett Till

Will Smith and Jay Z found success when they signed on as producers for the Broadway musical Fela, and now the two will team up again to produce an HBO mini series about Emmett Till.

Entertainment Weekly reports the two, along with Jay Brown, James Lassiter, and Aaron Kaplan are executive producing the untitled mini series. Till was a 14 year-old from Chicago sent to spend the summer in Mississippi. One evening, Till was kidnapped from his bedroom and savagely beaten by white men because he whistled at a white woman. At Till’s funeral, his mother Mamie had an open casket to showcase the brutality of her son’s death.

Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, the men responsible for Till murder, were found not guilty of their crimes, but later publicly admitted their involvment. Currently there are no writers for the mini series or an expected release date.

Earlier this year, famed film critic Roger Ebert‘s widow, Chaz Ebert, announced her own Emmett Till project.  We are not sure if both these Till projects will see the light of day, but we certainly hope so.  The more the history of African Americans is explored, and this particular turning point in the early struggle for racial justice and civil rights, the better.

Bree Newsome Speaks For The 1st Time After Taking Down Confederate Flag from State Capitol

Activist Bree Newsome Takes Down Confederate Flag from South Carolina State Capitol grounds (Photo via bluenationreview.com)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Over the weekend, a young freedom fighter and community organizer mounted an awe-inspiring campaign to bring down the Confederate battle flag. Brittany “Bree” Newsome, in a courageous act of civil disobedience, scaled a metal pole using a climbing harness, to remove the flag from the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol. Her long dread locks danced in the wind as she descended to the ground while quoting scripture. She refused law enforcement commands to end her mission and was immediately arrested along with ally James Ian Tyson, who is also from Charlotte, North Carolina.

Bree Newsome arrest feature

Earlier this week, social justice activist and blogger Shaun King offered a “bounty” on the flag and offered to pay any necessary bail bond fees. Newsome declined the cash reward, asking that all proceeds go to funds supporting victims of the Charleston church massacre. Social media users raised more than $75,000 to fund legal expenses. South Carolina House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, a renowned defense attorney, has agreed to represent Newsome and Tyson as they face criminal charges.

Newsome released the following statement exclusively to Blue Nation Review:

Now is the time for true courage.

I realized that now is the time for true courage the morning after the Charleston Massacre shook me to the core of my being. I couldn’t sleep. I sat awake in the dead of night. All the ghosts of the past seemed to be rising.

Not long ago, I had watched the beginning of Selma, the reenactment of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing and had shuddered at the horrors of history.

But this was neither a scene from a movie nor was it the past. A white man had just entered a black church and massacred people as they prayed. He had assassinated a civil rights leader. This was not a page in a textbook I was reading nor an inscription on a monument I was visiting.

This was now.

This was real.

This was—this is—still happening.

I began my activism by participating in the Moral Monday movement, fighting to restore voting rights in North Carolina after the Supreme Court struck down key protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

I traveled down to Florida where the Dream Defenders were demanding justice for Trayvon Martin, who reminded me of a modern-day Emmett Till.

I marched with the Ohio Students Association as they demanded justice for victims of police brutality.

I watched in horror as black Americans were tear-gassed in their own neighborhoods in Ferguson, MO. “Reminds me of the Klan,” my grandmother said as we watched the news together. As a young black girl in South Carolina, she had witnessed the Klan drag her neighbor from his house and brutally beat him because he was a black physician who had treated a white woman.

I visited with black residents of West Baltimore, MD who, under curfew, had to present work papers to police to enter and exit their own neighborhood. “These are my freedom papers to show the slave catchers,” my friend said with a wry smile.

And now, in the past 6 days, I’ve seen arson attacks against 5 black churches in the South, including in Charlotte, NC where I organize alongside other community members striving to create greater self-sufficiency and political empowerment in low-income neighborhoods.

Continue reading “Bree Newsome Speaks For The 1st Time After Taking Down Confederate Flag from State Capitol”

EDITORIAL: What We Can Do to Move Forward From Charleston

Nine victims of the Charleston church shooting. Top row: Cynthia Hurd, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton Middle row: Daniel Simmons, Rev. Depayne Middleton Doctor, Tywanza Sanders Bottom row: Myra Thompson, Ethel Lee Lance, Susie Jackson Via Facebook and Getty Images
Nine victims of the Charleston church shooting. Top row: Cynthia Hurd, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton Middle row: Daniel Simmons, Rev. Depayne Middleton Doctor, Tywanza Sanders Bottom row: Myra Thompson, Ethel Lee Lance, Susie Jackson (Photos via Facebook and Getty Images)

First and foremost, all of us at Good Black News are heartbroken over the loss of the nine precious lives taken this week by senseless, hateful murder at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and our sympathies and prayers go out to the families and loved ones most acutely affected by this domestic terrorism.  Even though you may already know the names of the unintended martyrs, they bear repeating, and often, so we never forget: Rev. Clementa PinckneyCynthia HurdSusie Jackson, Tywanza SandersSharonda Coleman-SingletonDaniel L. SimmonsEthel Lee LanceMyra Thompson, and Rev. Depayne Middleton-Doctor.

We call them martyrs because they are now part of the unfortunately long lineage of named and unnamed African-Americans subjected to racially-motivated violence in the United States.  From enslaved persons who died on slave ships in the Middle Passage, to persons enslaved in the colonies, to Reconstruction, to the Jim Crow era, to the Civil Rights movement and up through today, the pattern is plain: you are black, you are hated, your life doesn’t matter, you die violently.

I have spent a lot of time this past week reading and watching coverage of this national tragedy, not only to gather as much information as possible, but also to process and attempt to think of the right words to share on how to move forward in a positive manner, as that is overriding philosophy and mission of Good Black News.  I do think it is crucial first, however, to talk about WHERE this happened, HOW it happened and WHY it happened.

South Carolina State Capitol Building (top left); Mammy magnets for sale to Charleston tourists (top right); bumper sticker souvenir (bottom)
South Carolina State Capitol Building (top left); Mammy magnets for sale to Charleston tourists (top right); bumper sticker souvenir (bottom)

As everyone knows by now, South Carolina so proudly claims its antebellum history that the Confederate flag still flies on its State Capitol building.  The battle at Fort Sumpter in 1861, right outside of Charleston, which occurred not long after South Carolina seceded from the Union, set off the Civil War.  Tourist shops in Charleston casually sell merchandise such as mammy magnets and confederate bumper stickers, which are symbols of racial oppression to my eyes, but symbols of “the good ol’ days” to others.

The other “where” in this situation is specifically the Emanuel AME Church.  The history of this church is steeped in the fight for African-Americans to create their own place of worship and the freedom to express their humanity.  One of the church founders, Denmark Vesey, attempted in 1822 to organize a slave rebellion from this space, which, although thwarted, created mass hysteria among the slave owners in the Carolinas and lead to the church being burned.  It has been rebuilt several times and stands as a consistent symbol of black pride, resistance and fortitude.  So the choice of this place for this action makes it clear this was a targeted, racially-motivated attack.

CHARLESTON, SC - JUNE 18:  People stand outside the Emanuel AME Church after a mass shooting at the church that killed nine people on June 18, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina. A 21-year-old suspect, Dylann Roof of Lexington, South Carolina, was arrersted Thursday during a traffic stop. Emanuel AME Church is one of the oldest in the South. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SC – JUNE 18: People stand outside the Emanuel AME Church after a mass shooting at the church that killed nine people (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

On Wednesday night, in the spirit of fellowship, church members welcomed Dylann Roof, the unfamiliar stranger who would become their assassin, to join and participate in their bible study.  He took advantage of their compassion and open hearts to forward a racist agenda that is centuries-old and still pervasive in the DNA of this country, and particularly so in South Carolina and the South.  In the 1960s, people didn’t call the killers of Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., or the four African-American girls in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama “mentally insane.”  They called them what they were – Klan members and/or racists.  So regardless of whether or not Roof has mental problems, his racism and desire for racial supremacy is the primary motivation behind his actions.

So, clearly knowing all of that, what are some positive, actionable ways we can move forward as a nation, in our communities and in our personal lives from this horrific event?

  1. Petition/protest/vote for removals of all symbols of oppression and hate from government buildings, streets, tourist centers and shops.
  2. Contribute to the donation fund set up for the families of the victims of the Emanuel AME shootings.
  3. Support/join organizations such as the NAACP, ACLU or the National Urban League, that are dedicated to protesting racial injustice and empowering minorities.
  4. Educate all children of all colors and creeds about the racial history of the United States from slavery to the present and call it what it is. Visit civil rights museums.  Read, know and learn the history.   Just as Jewish peoples around the world make sure each generation “never forgets” the Holocaust – so should we never forget about American racial injustice.
  5. Keep calling out and protesting current injustices – we need to keep filming and reporting and being sources for unjust police actions, racial disparities in the workplace and even in our personal conversations.  Let’s not be Roof’s friend Joseph Meek Jr.,who now regrets not checking his friend more thoroughly about his racist vitriol.
  6. Love. Find forgiveness in our hearts just as the family members of several of the victims are doing for the assailant.  Meeting hate with hate solves nothing.

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson, Good Black News Founder and Editor-in-Chief

Chaz Ebert to Produce Emmett Till Biopic

Chaz Ebert poses for a portrait at the 'THE END OF THE TOUR' Screening at Virginia Theatre on April 16, 2015 in Champaign, Illinois
Chaz Ebert (Photo via eurweb.com)

Shatterglass Films and Chaz Ebert, the wife of the late Roger Ebert, said they will adapt the Emmett Till book “Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America” into a feature film.

The book, co-written by Till’s mother Mamie Till and journalist Christopher Benson, was nominated for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the death of Till, who was 14 years old and visiting relatives in the Mississippi Delta when he was slain after allegedly whistling at a white woman. The 1955 murder made headlines around the world and set in motion the civil rights movement that was to come.

Emmett Till

His story has been the subject of several documentaries including the 2003 PBS American Experience film “The Murder Of Emmett Till” and Keith Beauchamp’s 2003 “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till.”

“The full Emmett Till story needs to be told now and told well as a narrative for our times, given all that is happening on American streets today, and Shatterglass Films are the people to tell it,” Ebert said.

The plan is to wrap principal photography next year after shoots in Chicago, the Mississippi Delta and Central Illinois, according to Deadline.com.

article via eurweb.com

Tree Planted at the U.S. Capitol in Memory of Emmett Till

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The Capitol building sits on a 59-acre park that includes hundreds of trees.  The newest, a sycamore, was planted Monday, in memory of a black teenager who, nearly 60 years ago, was murdered for whistling at a white woman, helped spark the civil rights movement.

imagesHis name was Emmett Till.

On August 28th, 1955, the Chicago teen was taken by a group of white men from his great-uncle’s home while visiting Money, Miss. His shot and battered body was found three days later in a nearby river. Two white men were acquitted. At Till’s funeral, his mother Mamie proclaimed: Let the world see what they did to my boy.

Fifty thousand people filed by his open casket.

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A plaque is seen at the base of a tree planted in honor of Emmett Till on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, 11/17114. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson says Till’s murder served as a catalyst for supporters of civil rights.

“All those people who are about his age, you are about 14 in 1955, then became the front ranks of the civil rights movement,” said Nelson.

Perhaps this young American Sycamore Tree will help keep Till’s memory alive.

article by Elaine Quijano via cbsnews.com

Oprah Winfrey Comments on Trayvon Martin, Compares Him to Emmett Till (VIDEO)

On August 28, 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till was savagely beaten and shot through the head in Money, Mississippi, all for the crime of speaking to a 21-year-old white woman. After a widely covered trial, his murderers were acquitted — leading to national indignation and helping to catalyze the civil rights movement.

Oprah WInfreyThough the specifics of each case are vastly different, it’s easy to compare Till’s murder and its aftermath to the 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Oprah Winfrey did that very thing during the Lee Daniels’ The Butler press junket, calling the killings “parallel” — and adding, “In my mind, [they’re the] same thing.”

At the same time, Winfrey — who stars in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, a film set partially during the height of the civil rights movement — was careful to say that those outraged by Martin’s death and George Zimmerman being found not guilty shouldn’t dwell in the past. “You can get stuck in that,” she said, “and not allow yourself to move forward and to see how far we’ve come.”

article by Hillary Busis via popwatch.ew.com