The same could be said for the “Mothers of the Movement,” the mothers, daughters, and wives who have kept the memories of their loved one’s alive. These are women like Coretta Scott King, wife of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Myrlie Evers-Williams, wife of Medgar Evers; Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner; Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin; Maria Hamilton, mother of Dontre Hamilton; Lucy McBath, U.S. Representative for the state of Georgia and mother of Jordan Davis; Lezley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown; Cleopatra Pendleton-Cowley, mother of Hadiya Pendleton; Geneva Reed-Veal, mother of Sandra Bland; Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice; and Tamika Palmer, mother of Breonna Taylor.
Keith Beauchamp, who co-wrote the screenplay for “Till” alongside Chukwu, shared in the notes: “In light of all that has happened in recent years with the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor, as well as George Floyd and many others that have happened since that time, there’s no other story that speaks to this generation and the political and racial climate than the story of Emmett Louis Till.”
“His death continues to serve as a reminder of how far we have come and how far we have yet to go. In fact, I often use this analogy for people to really get it, because I have been at fault in teaching this story in many ways. And over the years, now that I know the story a lot more, I like to use this analogy. And I don’t want to offend anyone, but this is the only way that I can get people to understand the importance of this story to us now: Emmett Till is the Anne Frank of Black America. His death continues to serve as a reminder of grave injustice as well as hope and change. It was a change that came from the death of Emmett Till, a change that we’re still longing for today.”
Like a child’s heart, a mother’s love is a precious commodity that cannot be bought or sold. And the pain of losing a child leaves a scar that must be seen by all. I think Myrlie Evers-Williams summed it up best when she said in a speech at the L.A. premiere of “Till”: “There is so much to be done. There is still a major job to be done in these United States of America, and, basically, it’s going to be left to all of us to do something about it. Don’t think that you can skip out, because if you do it’s going to catch up with you one way or another. In 1963, June 12th, my husband Medgar Evers was shot down at the doorstep of our home with our three children crying out, ‘Daddy! Get up, daddy! Get up!’ But daddy could not get up. But daddy had done his job … he had done his job.”
Myrlie Evers-Williams, like Mamie Till-Mobley, continues to do the work of ensuring that the grave injustices inflicted upon loved ones should never again darken the doorstep of another family or another child. It is truly with a mother’s love that one can transform a nation and inspire an entire movement for generations to come.