Whoopi Goldberg is set to co-produce a film about the infamous torture and murder of African-American teenager Emmett Till.
Till will go into production early next year, reports Variety. The film will be based on the 2004 documentary The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till and the 2010 book Simeon’s Story: An Eyewitness Account of the Kidnapping of Emmett Till.
Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American boy, was brutally murdered in Mississippi on August 28, 1955 for flirting with a white woman.
Till reportedly spoke to 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant at a grocery store and was reported to have whistled at her. The teenager was murdered a few days later when Bryant’s husband and her half-brother confronted the teenager at a relative’s house, tortured him, and ultimately shot him in the head and dumped his body in a local river. The two men were later acquitted for the murder.
Till’s mother reportedly requested an open-casket funeral, and the resultant images of the teen’s brutally beaten body in newspapers across the country represented a tipping point in the emerging civil rights movement.
“Here is a story that is as much a part of American history as the Boston Tea Party and may stand as the greatest argument for getting rid of sanctioned racism,” Goldberg said in a statement to Variety. “Emmet Till’s brutal death at the hands of ignorant, brutish people exposes the Jim Crow-era South that gave the implicit OK to uphold that kind of racism without any real fear of repercussions. Today, the return of rampant, unchallenged racism cries out for the telling Emmett Till’s story again.”
The film’s producers have started a Kickstarter campaign with the aim of raising $50,000 by mid-September to help jumpstart the production. Other producers on the project reportedly include Keith A. Beauchamp, Frederick Zollo, Thomas K. Levine, Paul Kurta and Susan Rose.
Goldberg’s film is one of four upcoming projects that will explore the circumstances surrounding Till’s murder.
Chaz Ebert, the wife of late film critic Roger Ebert, is reportedly working on a film with Shatterglass Films based on the 2004 book Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime that Changed America. Meanwhile, Skyland Pictures and FireRock Bay have teamed up to produce a Till film based on a play called “The Face of Emmett Till.”
In July, it was reported that Jay-Z and Will Smith would partner to produce an HBO miniseries about Till.