“TILL” Producer, Emmett Till Foundation, and Family Respond to Grand Jury Decision


( ENSPIRE Entertainment ) The Mississippi Grand Jury Declined to Indict Carolyn Bryant Donham of the Emmett Till Murder Case Due to “Insufficient Evidence”

ENSPIRE Contributor: Cindy Rodriguez-Llivipuma

Less than a month after the premiere date for the feature film Till was announced, on August 9th, the Mississippi grand jury announced its decision to not indict Carolyn Bryant Donham, the white woman who alleged that 14-year-old Black boy, Emmett Till, whistled at her, and which prompted his abduction and murder more than 60 years ago.

The case has been reopened several times in the past due to newly discovered evidence but is yet to receive a favorable ruling for the late Emmett Till. The producer of Till, Keith A. Beauchamp, and the co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, and cousin of Emmett Till, Deborah Watts, both shared their disappointment with the grand jury’s decision. 

“I respect the grand jury’s decision, but it does not mean I agree with it. Unfortunately, this is not a rare occasion; Perpetrators slip through the callus hands of lady justice more often than one can imagine. As a member of the Black community, who are constant victims of the judicial system of America, we believe that justice can come in different forms. There’s no statute of limitations to kidnapping and murder in Mississippi. With strong continued public interest in the Emmett Till story, I strongly feel someone will offer new evidence, and this case will once again reopen. I will not give up the fight until justice is won. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Emmett Till and many of us who’s been touched by this story,” said Keith A. Beauchamp, producer of Till.

Deborah Watts, a cousin of Emmett Till, and co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation shared her thoughts on the decision as well. “We of course are very disappointed by the decision of the Leflore County Grand Jury that there was no sufficient evidence to indict Carolyn Bryant Donham in the kidnapping and manslaughter of our dear cousin, 14-year-old Emmett Louis Till. However, we are not giving up. We vow that the pursuit of accountability and justice for Emmett Till will continue. Emmett Till’s death will not be in vain..”

While the jury did not find Carolyn Bryant Donham guilty of the abduction and brutal murder of Emmett Till, both Watts and Beauchamp have hope that justice will be served; if not with this ruling, then with a future hearing. 

As we wait for this to happen, you can learn more about the Emmett Till case and how his mother’s fight for justice made his case a catalyst for the ongoing fight for civil rights for Black Americans in the United States by watching the trailer for Till below. Till will premiere on the opening weekend of the 60th New York Film Festival from September 30 to October 16. To book your tickets for the festival, visit the NYFF60 site here.

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