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American Experience - The Murder of Emmett Till

4.8 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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(Feb 03, 2004)
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$159.99 $70.74

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The shameful, sadistic murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till, a black youth who whistled at a white woman in a Mississippi grocery store in 1955, was a powerful catalyst for the civil rights movement. Till's killers were apprehended, but quickly acquitted by an all-white, all-male jury, later providing grisly details of the murder in a story to journalists. Three months after Till's body was found, the Montgomery Bus Boycott began.

From the Back Cover

In August 1955, a fourteen-year-old black boy whistled at a white woman in a grocery store in Money, Mississippi. Emmett Till, who was from Chicago, didn't understand that he had broken the unwritten laws of the Jim Crow South until three days later, two white men dragged him from his bed in the dead of night, beat him brutally and then shot him in the head. Although his killers were arrested and charged with murder, they were both acquitted quickly by an all-white, all-male jury. Shortly afterwards, the defendants sold their story, including a detailed account of how they murdered Till, to a journalist. The murder and trial horrified the nation and the world. Till's death was a spark that helped mobilize the civil rights movement. Three months after his body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River, the Montgomery bus boycott began.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Andre Braugher, Pat Antici, Oudie Brown, Harry Caise, Magnolia Cooksey-Mathious
  • Directors: Stanley Nelson
  • Writers: Marcia Smith
  • Producers: Stanley Nelson, Amilca Palmer, Laurens Grant, Mark Samels
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: February 3, 2004
  • Run Time: 53 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00019G4XW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,705 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "American Experience - The Murder of Emmett Till" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
In its 16-year run, the weekly prime-time TV series AMERICAN EXPERIENCE has been airing high-quality documentaries on wide-ranging subjects concerning American history. Notable shows include "The Battle over Citizen Kane," "The Donner Party," "The Quiz Show Scandal," "America and the Holocaust," the Oscar-nominated "Daughter from Danang," and the many great shows on American presidents and politics.
"The Murder of Emmett Till", first aired in January 2003, is one of the series' best. With film footage, photographs, interviews, and an effective narration by actor Andre Braugher, the 50-minute program tells a harrowing event that, without question, symbolizes the greatest victimization of African Americans during the 1950s. Often unmentioned in history books, the Emmett Till murder took place in an obscure town in Mississippi shortly before the Civil Rights movement gained full momentum. A black teenager from Chicago allegedly whistled at a white woman and ended up beaten and shot to death by local bigots. A trial with an all-white jury ensued, and the acquittal of the murderers was a foregone conclusion. Till's mother courageously asked for her son's mutilated corpse to be displayed in public in order to reveal the depth of racism to the world. The murder gained world-wide notoriety, prompting one French journalist to write, "The death of young black man in America isn't worth a whistle."
The film includes newly conducted interviews with Till's mother, Mamie, shortly before her death in January 2003. She and some of Emmett's relatives eloquently recall the fateful events and the social climate at the time. We see contemporary news footage of the murderers, their supporters, and the atmosphere of the trial at that time.
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1 Comment 29 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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I wasn't born when Emmett Till was murdered, yet this story has always troubled me. Watching this PBS documentary just mesmerized me. I don't understand this kind of hate, that grown men would drag a young boy from his bed and literally beat him to death. And how a legal system or the community could support the white men because they were white and the victim was black. One witness said he heard "beating" and the boy "screaming." I get goose bumps when I think of that... This movie is not for the squeamish, because it deals with the facts without sugarcoating them. I could watch it because I know it really happened. Turning away and burying my head in the sand because its too horrible to accept is why slavery and the brutal treatment of blacks in the long history of this country lasted so long. God-fearing people have got to face history, learn from it, and vow never to allow the bad parts of it to be repeated... Watching this movie with an open heart and mind will convict you to that end.
3 Comments 25 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By A Customer on February 5, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
This films shows the events around the lynching of Emmett Till, a Black teenager from Chicago. Emmett was visiting relatives in Mississippi in 1955 when he was tortured and murdered by racists.
This film talks about real history, not the sanitized versions we get in high school and on t.v.
Comment 18 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
We've seen and heard the inspirational Martin Luther King and mourned his murder, we watched and listened to Malcolm X, felt his pain, and also mourned when he was murdered, and we praised Rosa Parks and others like her when they took a stand against racism and strove for civil rights. But who was Emmett Till?
Rosa Parks said it best when asked, "Miss Parks, why didn't you go the back of the bus?" She said, "I thought about Emmett Till and I just couldn't go back".

This documentary is the tragic story of 14 year old boy that was the victim of a racist murder in 1955, a murder that was committed because he whistled at a white woman. The interviews with his mother, who just died last year, are heart wrenching, and the corrupt trial of Emmett's murderers by an all white Ku Klux Klan Jury, will make you yell at the TV. This is powerful stuff, a true story that should be shown in classrooms across the country as part of a history lesson. What frustrated and angered me is that NO ONE of authority from the state of Mississippi has ever apologized and NO ONE was ever convicted of the murder. All that is about to change.

I recently heard that the case has been reopened. So now, after 50 years, maybe there will be some justice so that Emmett Till and his mother can rest in peace.

It would be nice if racism would fade away with time, but not much has changed in the 50 years since Emmett Till's death. I would hope that Emmett's death, and other tragedies such as his, are not in vain.
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The Murder... provides a thoughtful and soul stirring view of how racial hate destroys individuals and social institutions. At the same time, it is a reminder of the historical nightmares pregnant in America as a result of segregation. Indeed, this film renewed my commitment to be an individual who teaches students about the way African Americans have thrived in the midst of living within and in the blues existence known as racial hate. This is a movie all people need to experience.
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Format: DVD
A very moving documentary, that made me angry about the abhorrent racism in southern states. This absorbing documentary learnt me, a European, also a lot about how America deals with the dark pages in its history. This is democracy at its best.
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