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JAY-Z and Will Smith team up to produce miniseries on Emmett Till’s mother

“Women of the Movement” will air on ABC.

JAY-Z/Will Smith Getty Images

On the 65th anniversary of Emmett Till’s tragic death, ABC announced the story of him and his mother Mamie Till Mobley will be told on a miniseries produced by JAY-Z and Will Smith.

“Women of the Movement” will air six episodes that focus on Mobley and the moments that triggered the start of the Civil Rights movement. JAY-Z and Smith will work alongside fellow producers Aaron Kaplan, Jay Brown and Tyan “Ty Ty” Smith of Roc Nation, Jamie Lassiter of Overbrook Entertainment and others. Marissa Jo Cerar will serve as the series writer and Gina Prince-Bythewood, who directed Love and Basketball, is set to direct the show’s first episode.

Following the announcement, Cerar expressed her excitement about being part of a monumental series.

“I am thrilled to bring this project to television,” she said. “It is unfortunately very timely, and my hope is to give the audience a chance to learn who Emmett Till really was – the boy, rather than the victim or the martyr – while also showcasing Mamie’s astonishing strength in the face of a mother’s worst nightmare.”

Cerar continued, “Telling Emmett and Mamie’s story is a responsibility I have not taken lightly since I began this journey last year, because this is more than a tragedy; it’s a story about a mother’s unwavering love of her son and her commitment to bettering the lives of all Black people. I can’t wait to start filming. With the brilliant Gina Prince-Bythewood as our director, we could not be in better hands.”

Bythewood also shared her thoughts on being involved in the project. “The story of Emmett Till and Mamie Till is not one I want to tell. It is a story I need to tell,” she said. “I am grateful to be on this journey with incredible collaborators who are determined to honor this mother and son with truth, authenticity and humanity.”

JAY-Z and Smith were initially working to produce an Emmett Till miniseries that was to air on HBO. When the network failed to pick up the series, they switched gears, hired a new writer and decided to center the show around the Mobley and the women of the Civil Rights movement.

Till was killed by two white men on Aug. 28, 1955 after he was accused of flirting and whistling at a white woman. For his funeral, his mother insisted on an open casket to highlight racism and lynching in the United States.

Till’s death sparked the Civil Rights Movement and is the basis of the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act, which is intended to establish lynching as a federal crime.

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