Jesse Williams Apologizes For Using Emmett Till's Mother To Promote Movie
"I would absolutely never make light of the tremendous tragedy."
Jesse Williams is usually seen as a champion of social injustice, but he found himself at the center of controversy after he turned an image of Emmett Till's mother, Mamie Till Mobley into an meme to promote his upcoming movie, Till. Following the backlash, Williams released a statement on Tuesday (Sept. 25), apologizing for the insensitive post.
For those who are not up to speed, the meme Williams shared featured historic images of Mamie Till crying over the death of her son, who was brutally lynched for falsely whistling at a white woman in Money, Mississippi in 1955. The meme included the same slogan that was used for Colin Kaepernick's Nike ad: "Believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything." Many people noted that the ad was thoughtless, as Mamie Till didn't sacrifice her son; he was murdered.
"I would absolutely never make light of the tremendous tragedy that foisted Mamie Till Mobley into her life of activism and could never pretend her child being brutally tortured and executed was her 'sacrifice'," Williams stated after removing them from his social media accounts.
He also expressed his true intentions for the images. "The images were designed it to highlight the tremendous sacrifices that Mamie made by sharing her unrelenting journey for justice - including boldly sharing those iconic images from her son's funeral, which changed the world," he explained. "I adopted an iconic contemporary visual framework to connect past to present And contextualize our language around loss, leadership and sacrifice. My intent aside, I take responsibility for how they were received."
He continued: "My heart is always with my people and this includes my artistic commitment to telling our stories. Always have, always will," Jesse added. "And while I stand for creative expression, every swing ain't gonna be a home run. (And y'all know I swing a lot.) Those who are sincere in this work and concern, I thank you."
Till the movie has reportedly been approved by the Till family, although it is unclear how they felt about the recent promotional stunt. The forthcoming film will highlight Mamie's struggle for justice in the death of her 14-year-old son, which ultimately kick-started a new chapter of the Civil Rights Movement.
Whoopi Gldberg will co-produce and star in the movie.