On February 16, 2023, in honor of Black History Month, the White House hosted a special screening of Till, based on the true story of educator-turned-activist Mamie Till-Mobley, who pursued justice after the brutal and unjustified death of her 14-year-old son Emmett in 1955. The 150 guest list included actors, film producers, partners of the film, family members of Emmett Till, civil rights leaders, historians, student groups from Chicago and Mississippi and community activists who are working to combat hate-fueled violence in Buffalo, New York and Charleston, South Carolina.
President Joe Biden welcomed attendees to the event, held in the East Room of the White House, alongside First Lady Dr. Jill Biden. The President spoke of how EBONY’s sister publication JET published the photos of 14-year-old Chicagoan Emmett Till’s mutilated body, who was murdered while visiting family in Mississippi for allegedly flirting with a white woman. The photos inspired thousands of people to join the modern Civil Rights Movement.
"JET magazine, the Chicago Defender and other Black newspapers were unflinching and brave in sharing the story of Emmett Till and searing it into the nation’s consciousness,” President Biden announced. He also commemorated the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, which makes lynching a federal hate crime.
"A brave and historic action at the time, JET magazine ran photos of Till's mutilated body in the coffin in the article, “Nation Horrified by Murder of Kidnap Chicago Youth.” Those images cemented this devastating event in American history while bringing light to the plight of Black Americans at the hands of racist bigots. Till-Mobley pushed through her grief, and mobilized an entire generation of disenfranchised Black Americans to seek justice when violently wronged, with an outcome that our community can never forget," posted EBONY late last year.
Daylon Goff, president of JET, shares, “I appreciate President Biden’s understanding of JET’s key role in letting the world know about Emmett Till, which also helped fuel the civil rights movement. I make the correlation all the time that JET was to Emmett Till, what social media was to George Floyd. Those images in JET on September 15, 1955, ensured that the world could no longer ignore or be willfully ignorant to what was going on in America.”
TILL stars Danielle Deadwyler, Jalyn Hall and Whoopi Goldberg—who portray Mamie Till-Mobley, Emmett Till and Alma Carthan in the film respectively—were on hand for the special screening, along with director Chinonye Chukwu, co-writers Michael Reilly and Keith Beauchamp, founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation and Till’s cousin Deborah Watts, and additional members of the Till family: Teri Watts, Priscilla Sterling, Anna Laura Williams and Annie Wright.
Additional filmmaker and studio executive attendees included producers Barbara Broccoli, Thomas Levine, and Frederick Zollo, Alana Mayo, head of Orion Pictures; Gerry Rich, head of Theatrical Marketing, MGM; Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios; Mike Hopkins, SVP, Prime Video and Amazon Studios; and Julie Rapaport head of Film, Amazon Studios.
Other notable guests included EBONY's chairwoman and CEO Eden Bridgeman Skenlar, Reena Evers-Everette, daughter of Medgar Evers and Myrlie Evers-Williams; Keisha Lance Bottoms, senior advisor to the President for Public Engagement members of Congress: Representative Al Green (TX-09), Representative Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05) and Representative Jonathan Jackson (IL-01), along with The View host Ana Navarro-Cardenas; Joe Madison, Sirius XM host; and high school students from Chicago and Grenada, Mississippi.