LIVING HERSTORY: CELEBRATING BOLD AFRICAN-DESCENT WOMEN
Join us as we celebrate Black History Month on our blog this February. We’ll celebrate Bold Women’s Day during Women’s History Month in March. Follow this blog every Monday, as we reflect together about bold women—women whose collective voices are changing the lives of women and girls every day!
Chinonye Chukwu, Whoopi Goldberg, Danielle Deadwyler—Till
Many movies reference the brutal murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955 while visiting his family in Money, Mississippi. The film Till allows the viewer to hear his story through his mother’s voice.
Actor Danielle Deadwyler plays Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Bradley. Chinonye Chukwu, director, and Whoopi Goldberg, producer, and actor bring forth the story of Mamie’s life and activism after her son’s murder. The film focuses on the racism and sexism that Mamie endured and that Black women still experience today. Both Whoopi and Chinonye focused on where Mamie drew her strength to become an advocate and civil rights leader. Indeed, many families and mothers had buried sons even younger than Emmett, accused of the same crime and brutally murdered.
Maybe it was because in 1945, Mamie received notice from the War Department that, while serving in Italy, her husband and another soldier had been executed due to “willful misconduct,” and their bodies buried near the First World War U.S. Cemetery located at Oise-Aisne in the Fifth Field.
Maybe it was because she was blocked at every turn by the U.S. Army bureaucracy as she sought to learn what really happened to her son’s father and to have his name cleared.
Maybe it was all of these things that she decided it would not be Emmett’s legacy.
Mamie made good on her promise to Emmett and her family that his story would be told. Whoopi and Chinonye wanted the movie to show the story of Emmett Till as a contemporary one. Emmett Till would only be 82 this July 25, 2023.
View the movie Till.
1. What did you learn about Mamie Till-Mobley?
2. How does herstory inform our antiracism and gender work today?
God, we thank you for the life of Emmett Till. As we grieve the evilness of racism and White supremacy that led to his and the death of countless people of God, let us use our anger at injustice to motivate us to use our Mamie Till voice to make real changes to stop the hate filled killing of African Americans. Amen.
Valora Starr is the director for discipleship, Women of the ELCA.