Recognising that classrooms should be decolonised year-round, Till: Mother of a Movement offers an opportunity to teach Black history beyond the flashpoint of Black History Month. Till focuses on a crucial chapter of the US fight for Civil Rights, and has resonance to the stories of Black Britons and to African Caribbean diaspora experiences around the world.
Till is a powerful and poignant retelling of true events and the activism they spurred. After losing her 14-year-old son Emmett to a hate crime in 1955, Mamie Till-Mobley dedicated herself to pursuing justice and advancing the Civil Rights Movement. Our resource will allow you to bring even more depth into your lessons when guiding your students in understanding this key part of Black history, as well as its ongoing legacy today.
Our Till: Mother of a Movement resource offers historical context for the film’s tragic events, and is designed to assist you in creating a safe space for pupils to reflect and process their responses. Our Mother of a Movement timeline will enable students to contextualise Mamie’s story as part of the Civil Rights Movement, allowing students to see how we all have the power to impact positive change in our communities.
Till: Mother of a Movement consists of a PowerPoint presentation for use with pupils aged 12+. This thought-provoking resource is designed for use in classrooms across citizenship, history and English lessons, or for use with smaller groups during form time. The resource can also be adapted for assembly use. The accompanying Teachers’ Notes offer support with delivering materials in your chosen context.
Using clips from Till, the presentation introduces the film’s themes of agency and activism, and will help you guide a thoughtful discussion on the movement kickstarted by Emmett Till’s murder. Students will be encouraged to consider how the actions of individuals like Mamie Till-Mobley can drive positive social change for millions of others.
Our Mother of a Movement timeline places the events of Till within their historical context, supporting civil rights and Jim Crow curriculum topics for GCSE history students, and explaining their global resonance.
Pupils will be encouraged to channel their reflections from the resource and the film into an extended writing task, which also provides students with essay question practice for English language and history GCSE exams.
All materials have been assessed by Into Film’s expert safeguarding team and include comprehensive trigger warnings to ensure you can help students feel comfortable navigating potentially upsetting material. Imagery of Emmett Till in his casket is shown in the film, but is not included in these materials. Its impact is explained in the Teachers’ Notes and referenced briefly in the Mother of a Movement PowerPoint presentation.
Directed by Chinonye Chukwu with a screenplay by Michael Reilly, Keith Beauchamp and Chukwu, Till tells the heart-breaking true story of the historic lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till — for whistling at a white woman in Money, Mississippi in 1955 — through the eyes of his mother Mamie Till-Mobley. This is what makes the film so compelling, it’s told from the perspective and experience of a Black woman and is co-written and directed by a Black woman.
Mamie Till-Mobley is a widowed single mother who is the head of her household, the only Black woman working for the Air Force in Chicago. Till-Mobley becomes a revolutionary by insisting that the world witness the horror of her son’s body in an open casket viewing as an act of defiance against oppression and hate. “I wanted the world to see what they did to my boy," she said at the time. Till-Mobley also gave the exclusive rights to Jet Magazine to publish the images of her son’s maimed body which caused the lynching to gain worldwide notoriety. A mother’s audacity became a lightning rod in the Civil Rights Movement and propelled her to reluctantly become an outspoken activist for the NAACP advocating for social justice and education.
Till-Mobley represents so many phenomenal Black women in American history who are heroes (oftentimes hidden figures) for demanding justice, refusing to shrink in a horrific moment of racial/social injustice, and turning profound trauma into triumph in the continuing fight for civil rights, equality, and humanity.
The actors in Till bring this socially conscious film to life with passion and deep emotion. Danielle Deadwyler’s portrayal of Till-Mobley is defiant and charismatic. Whoopi Goldberg, who plays Till-Mobley’s mother Alma Carthan (and serves as a producer of the film), is both complicated and vulnerable as the matriarch of the family negotiating traditional Southern racist practices and modern Northern quests for Black liberation and feminism. Jalyn Hall as Emmett Till is jovial with a childlike innocence. Roger Guenveur Smith’s role as Dr. T.M.R. Howard, while brief, is memorable and commanding. Haley Bennett (Carolyn Bryant), Jayme Lawson (Myrlie Evers), and Tosin Cole (Medgar Evers) all transport you back to the racially charged history of 1955. Till is a modern-day masterpiece shining a light on an important American story that has been hidden from the public and education system.
Till is in cinemas now.
Danielle Deadwyler, Whoopi Goldberg, Jalyn Hall, Roger Guenveur Smith, Haley Bennett, Jayme Lawson, Tosin Cole
This resource has been commissioned by Universal and EON Productions to support the release of Till.