Sunday, January 28th at 2:00 P.M.
at the Main Library, downtown
Louis Stokes Wing Auditorium
East 6th Street and Superior Avenue.
Keith Beauchamp was a 10-year-old boy growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when he first encountered the story of Emmett Till, the black teenager murdered in Mississippi in 1955 for whistling at a white woman. Beauchamp had been leafing through a copy of Jet magazine when he saw two photographs that shocked him: "Here was this angelic face" on one page, "and on the other side was this disfigured face..."
Those images stayed with Keith Beauchamp throughout his upbringing in the Deep South and well into his adulthood. Indeed, Beauchamp has recounted his own encounters with the evils of racism. Those experiences and his subsequent research into the Till case led to his award-winning 2004 documentary, "The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till."
And Beauchamp's documentary led to the reopening of the case almost 50 years after the heinous crime was committed.
There were 14 white men who jumped on and beat Emmett Till senseless that day in 1955, then shot him dead. But only two men were charged with the crime. They were found not guilty. A few months later, both arrogantly admitted to a reporter from Look magazine that they had committed the crime.
The case remained yet another dark chapter in American history until Beauchamp, after reading newspaper articles referring to the uncharged participants and witnesses who had not been questioned by police, decided to head to Mississippi to speak to those who'd been there that day. The interviews he obtained were cited by the United States Department of Justice as a major factor in reopening the investigation nearly half a century later.
Keith Beauchamp is currently collaborating with Pulitzer Prize winner James Alan Macpherson on a novel about his quest for answers in the Till case and its impact on American society.
Michael Schwartz Library