Member of Till Family Calls Out “Till” Oscar Snub

FM HipHop
3 min readJan 28, 2023
Member of Till Family Calls Out "Till" Oscar Snub

A member of Emmett Till’s family has come forward to express the sentiments of the family after the Academy’s Snub of the feature film “‘Till.” And the sentiments can be summed up in one word, “disappointed”.

“‘Till” is a 2022 biographical Drama directed by Chinonye Chukwu. It is a hard-hitting but moving re-dramatization of the tragic story of Emmett Till. However, when award season came, it was overlooked by the Academy. Deborah Watts, a cousin of Emmett Till, who is also the co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, had something to say.
Emmett Till: Historical Tragedy

Emmett and Mother. Image Source:
Emmett Till’s story is one of the most egregious historical accounts of boiled-over racism. While accounts of racism and the atrocities it wrought were not uncommon for the time, his story struck a nerve. According to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, his death catalyzed a movement.
The Details of Till’s Death
Till became the victim of a senselessly brutal attack that ended his life. The National Museum of African American History and Culture notes, “According to court documents, Till was visiting family for the summer in Money, Mississippi. He purchased two cents worth of bubble gum from the Bryant Grocery store saying, “Bye, baby” over his shoulder to Carolyn Bryant as he exited.”

And for that, his life was taken.
Fires Stoked
It may be hard to understand in the present the propensity of what the incident meant. But in specific terms, it was monumental. It was like striking a match in a forest long parched by drought. The insensitive reaction amounted to gross negligence and set off a raging fire. As noted, 100 days after the death of Till, Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus. And Till’s death was instrumental in Park’s decision. Rosa Parks is quoted as saying,
“she thought about going to the back of the bus. But she thought about Emmett Till and she couldn’t do it.”
Bright Points in Film
Years later, we continue to tell the story. “Till” was the latest project put forth. Danielle Deadwyler, Jalyn Hall, Frankie Faison, and Whoopi Goldberg poured their heart and souls into honoring the legacy of Emmett Till through film. Danielle Deadwyler mesmerized audiences with her portrayal of Mammie Till-Mobly. She was able to convey a raw emotionalism that was impressive. It was as if she tapped into Mammie’s soul to convey her excruciating pain, consuming grief, and unparalleled strength. Deadwyler embodied the complete essence of Mammie. But unfortunately, none of it moved the Academy.

Watt Speaks on Behalf of the Till Family
In a January 25 interview with TMZ, Deborah Watts could not contain her disappointment. She expressed how upset she and the rest of the family were very disappointed. Yet, despite her dismay, she eventually turned the conversation toward an outstanding cast member. She spoke highly of Deadwyler’s performance, citing why it deserved at least a nomination. But TMZ wasn’t the only one Watt’s shared her sentiments with. She shared her explicit feelings with the world two days ago via social media.
Rehashed Argument
Watts’ argument is a familiar one. In fact, others have also called out Viola Davis’ lack of nomination for her role in “The Woman King.” Nevertheless, one must realize that the Academy is an old organization with less than a stellar history of equity. It may change, or it may not. So while recognition is undoubtedly deserved, that is of little significance at this point. Most important are those who recognize the value in what was put forth because awards don’t necessarily equate to the cumulative merit of a film. “Till” was an undeniably phenomenal picture and a much-needed reminder of where we’ve been juxtaposed to where we are.
Watts Looks Toward the Future
Watts contends that it will not stop them from sharing the story despite the snub. Instead, they will press on whether they are rewarded or not. And that is what is most important.

Written by: Renae Richardson



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