ABC is taking a hard look at the real life pain and impact of Emmett TIll’s murder and his mother Mamie Till-Mobley’s fight for justice.
In the three part docuseries Let the World See, directors and executive producers Jeanmarie Condon and Curry use interviews with family, celebrated authors and famous figures to examine how Mamie Till-Mobley changed the civil rights movement with her fight for justice.
Condon and Curry spoke with The Root about how they got involved with the project, and what they took away from exploring Mamie Till-Mobley’s life.
“For me personally, it was the story of this young Black mother, and her fight for justice and to keep her son’s name elevated and that we still see the ripple effects of that effort,” Curry said. “As a Black mother of two females, I for sure wanted to be a part of this journey to keep the story alive.”
Black families grow up with the story of Emmett Till, so bringing something new to such a well known story was the duo’s biggest obstacle.
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“The President of ABC News Kim Godwin, when she met with us, she laid that down as a challenge,” Condon said. “She said ‘I have sons, I make sure they know this story, what are you going to tell me that I don’t already know?’”
“Each and every day after that meeting, because we reported the story and worked together in the edit rooms, writing and constructing interviews, that was our North star. That question that she asked,” Condon continued.
For many Black people, their history is told through family stories, journals and letters. There’s no official record. This is a reality the team had to deal with in putting together an accurate account of events.
“There’s something we’re cognizant of taking on as a challenge, which is…look at the question of how do you tell a history that is the unofficial history, is undocumented history, is seen as anecdotal history,” Condon said.
“The board of education of Mississippi did not go around recording how many young Black women in Mississippi in the 1930s were denied an education, when it was compared to the opportunity Mamie Till-Mobley had when she went north,” Condon continued.
“The thing is to really elevate those voices. Those first hand account voices of history,” Curry added. “A lot of times we don’t necessarily get the history from those voices, so this was an opportunity to create a platform, where we actually hear those stories, and people that were there can speak firsthand about our American history.”
The docuseries features interviews with members of the Till family, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Angie Thomas, Michael Eric Dyson, Common and Michelle Obama.
“We wanted those firsthand voices,” Curry said. “That was a part of the narrative, so we wanted to definitely secure those voices, and also get a deeper understanding of that story behind the story that Jean refers to.”
“In addition, we reached out to a lot of people that were connected into the family story like Reverend Jesse Jackson, he was part of the family,” Curry continued. “Then also people that spoke directly to the story prior to us picking up the pieces.”
“Angie Thomas and Michael Eric Dyson were really chosen because they’ve written some of the most emotional literature around this case in recent memory,” Condon added. “Michael Eric Dyson, his ‘Letter to Emmett Till,’ which you’ll see him read on the bridge where his body was executed essentially.”
Mamie Till-Mobley’s courage is central to the story in both Women of the Movement and Let the World See, but Curry and Condon saw other important themes that they took away from this amazing woman.
“I love that she was so resilient, and our community is so strong and resilient. For me that would be the message,” Curry said. “We’re showing the strength within this woman, within the family that through all the trauma that they’ve experienced, they still continue to uplift this and tell the story regardless to the case being open, closed or people not wanting to say the name, they continue that push.”
“Even if someday this case is reopened and the result is different, the damage that has been done to communities, it can never be fully repaired,” Condon said. “When there’s injustice it’s important to be passionate about it and act on it like when it’s in front of you, because you don’t really get a second chance do you? You get a chance to repair slightly what has happened in the past, but this is a case where you can see, and you can feel how once the system didn’t go there and do what it needed to do, jn spite of all the best intentions, in spite of multiple FBI investigations, in spite of the tenacity of the family they could never fix it.”
The final two episodes of Let the World See air Jan. 13 and 20 at 10 pm on ABC, and are available the day after broadcast on Hulu, with Episode 1 already streaming.