Posted on February 17, 2023

Biden Hosts Screening of Film About Lynching of Emmett Till

Darlene Superville, Associated Press, February 16, 2023

President Joe Biden on Thursday hosted a screening of the movie “ Till,” a wrenching, new drama about the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till, who was brutally killed after a white woman said the Black 14-year-old had made improper advances toward her.

“History matters,” Biden said in brief remarks before the lights in the East Room came down on invited guests, including members of Till’s family. He noted that while some might want to ignore the nation’s history, “Only with truth comes healing and justice.”

Biden said he’s come to learn that “hate never goes away,” and that the only thing that stops it is for the entire country to condemn it.

“There’s only one thing that stops it: all of us,” Biden said. “Silence is complicity.”

Among the members of Till’s family was a cousin who is suing in federal court to force a Mississippi county sheriff to serve a recently discovered 1955 arrest warrant on the now nearly 90-year-old woman who complained about the young man.

Biden did not comment on the suit, but thanked members of Till’s family for “never, ever, ever giving up” in the pursuit of justice.


Also in the audience, where popcorn and candy were passed out and a pack of tissues placed on each seat, were students, civil rights leaders, historians and families of victims of hate-fueled violence.

Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said this week that it was important to the president to host the screening during Black History Month “to lift this movie up” and to make sure that Till’s story is not forgotten.


“There’s still a lot more work to be done. The work is not done,” Jean-Pierre said. “But the president is going to do everything that he can in his power at — in the federal government, in this White House, to make sure that we address issues like this.”


Till’s cousin, Priscilla Sterling, and her lawyers said they planned to try to deliver copies of the suit to the Justice Department on Friday.

Till family members, including Sterling, said Thursday at an appearance in Washington that they will appeal to the department to reopen the investigation into his death. Lawyer Malik Shabazz said the investigation was unfairly narrow. “A movie is nice. Justice is much better,” he said.