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President Biden Hosts White House Screening of “Till” to Honor Emmett Till and Uphold Civil Rights Legacy

On Thursday, President Joe Biden welcomed civil-rights leaders and victims of hate-fueled violence to the White House for a screening of “Till,” a movie depicting the life of Mamie Till-Mobley, whose son Emmett Till, a Black teenager, was brutally lynched in Mississippi in 1955.[0]

Last March, Biden signed The Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act, the culmination of a decades-long effort to secure such legislation, making lynching a federal hate crime for the first time.[1] The law names Till, whose murder at the age of 14 sparked outrage and fueled the civil rights movement after his mother held an open casket funeral to put the barbarous act on display.[2]

The film, released last October, stars Danielle Deadwyler as Till-Mobley and Jalyn Hall as Emmett.[3] Director Chukwu co-wrote the powerful script with Michael Reilly and Keith Beauchamp.[3] It was White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre who first announced the screening, saying “We haven’t actually screened many movies, so the fact that we’re doing this in this month, I think sends a strong message from the President and from this White House, from the First Lady, how important we think it is to lift this movie up and to make sure that his story continues to be told and not forgotten.”[1]

At the screening, Biden said, “To remember history is to shine a light on the good, the bad, the truth and who we are as a nation. Our history shows that while darkness and denialism hide very much, they erase nothing. They can’t erase the past, and they shouldn’t.”[4]

He also praised Black newspapers of the time, including Jet Magazine and the Chicago Defender, for being “unflinching and brave” in their reporting on the lynching of Emmett Till.[5]

Biden then highlighted his own accomplishment, saying, “It was an honor. It was one of the great honors of my career. The Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act, making lynching a federal hate crime.”[4]

He continued, “Lynching is pure terror, enforcing the lie that not everyone belongs in America and not everyone is created equal.[4] Pure terror to systematically undermine hard-fought civil rights.[4]

0. “Biden Hosts Screening of Till, Film of Life of Emmett Till's Mother” Bloomberg, 16 Feb. 2023, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-02-16/biden-screens-film-on-life-of-emmett-till-s-mother-during-black-history-month

1. “President Biden, first lady to screen ‘Till' at the White House; movie tells Emmett Till story” Chicago Sun-Times, 15 Feb. 2023, https://chicago.suntimes.com/columnists/2023/2/14/23600048/president-biden-first-lady-jill-to-screen-till-movie-tells-the-emmett-till-story

2. “Biden Screens Film on Life of Emmett Till’s Mother During Black History Month” BNN Bloomberg, 17 Feb. 2023, https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/biden-screens-film-on-life-of-emmett-till-s-mother-during-black-history-month-1.1885082

3. “Joe Biden praises Till, film on lynching of civil rights activist, at its White House screening” WION, 17 Feb. 2023, https://www.wionews.com/entertainment/joe-biden-praises-till-film-on-lynching-of-civil-rights-activist-at-its-white-house-screening-562936

4. “Biden blasts ‘denialism' while discussing racism during ‘Till' screening” UPI News, 17 Feb. 2023, https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2023/02/16/biden-blasts-denialism-racism-screening-emmett-till-film/4111676604633/

5. “U.S. President Biden's Remarks at Till Movie Screening” Mirage News, 16 Feb. 2023, https://www.miragenews.com/us-president-bidens-remarks-at-till-movie-949570