Winner 2003

American Experience: The Murder of Emmett Till

A Firelight Media production for American Experience, WGBH/Boston

Among the hundreds of tragic stories in the history of American racial violence, the murder of a 14-year-old boy in Mississippi in the summer of 1955 remains one of the most harrowing. That the lynching of Till also served to ignite the Civil Rights Movement is an often overlooked consequence of that horrible event. The Murder of Emmett Till examines all facets of this story in fine-grained detail. This outstanding documentary takes us through the well-known facts of the Till murder, then takes us far beyond those facts. Writer Marcia A. Smith, producer/director Stanley Nelson, coordinating producer Laurens Grant, and editor Lewis Erskine focus on Mrs. Mamie Till Mobley, mother of Emmett Till, who passed away shortly before the film was aired. She tells of her difficult decision to hold an open-casket funeral for her young son when his dreadfully mutilated body was returned to Chicago for burial. The response of African-American communities throughout the country, and the responses of white citizens who were outraged at what passed for justice in a Mississippi courtroom, served as a spark for the Civil Rights Movement that changed American society forever in the years that followed. The Peabody Board is honored to present a George Foster Peabody Award to The Murder of Emmett Till.