Glynn Turman stars opposite Tony Award-winner Adrienne Warren in the six-episode ABC series “Women of the Movement,” based on the true story of Mamie Till-Mobley (Warren), who fought for justice for her son, Emmett Till, igniting the Civil Rights movement.
Emmett was 14 in August 1955 when he was kidnapped from his great-uncle’s house, tortured and killed — his body thrown into the Tallahatchie River — after being accused of whistling at a white woman, Carolyn Bryant, while visiting relatives in Mississippi. Two white men, Roy Bryant and JW Milam, were arrested for the murder were acquitted by an all-white jury.
Turman, 74, plays Emmet’s (Cedric Joe) great-uncle, Mose Wright. He spoke to The Post about Emmett Till and “Women of the Movement,” executive-produced by Will Smith and Jay-Z and premiering Thursday, Jan. 6 at 8 p.m.
Do you remember this case as a child?
I certainly do. It was a big deal. That story had everybody on a short leash because that vibe was in the air. People were worried — and what could happen if you weren’t careful.
You and Emmett Till weren’t that far apart in age growing up. He basically could be your older brother.
We were very close in age so he was definitely on our radar. It was interesting because I was born in Harlem but I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood.
What did your parents tell you growing up as a young black man during the Civil Rights movement?
It was mostly “Keep your head up” from my mother. That’s one of the things that resonated with me in this series. One of the major components of the story is the … value of self-worth, of not feeling as though you had to look down. That was drummed into my head at a very young age.
How does the series enlighten us about Emmett Till?
It puts flesh and bones on the heart and soul of Emmett. He was just as ordinary and beautiful as any 14-year-old kid. We see him with his buddies singing doo-wop on the corner, we see him having a great time and we see the bond between Emmett and his mother. She teaches us who her son was [and] she teaches us why she was so fervent in making sure the world found out about this horrible injustice and not to sweep it under the rug. She took on the crusade, and in doing so she became the face of the Civil Rights movement. So you not only get to know Emmett, but you get to know his mother and the climate of the times. I think it’s going to resonate with many people.
What impact do you want this film to have on this and past generations?
What I want people to be able to take from [‘Women of the Movement’] is anything that makes them aware that we don’t want to repeat history. One of the things that was very interesting was [that] Mamie Till-Mobley turned 100 years old in November — on the same day that three men were found guilty in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.
How do you feel about Caroline Bryant? Do you think she should say something publicly?
What I’m more concerned about is the Federal Government’s reaction to their knowledge of the Bryants and the whole situation, knowing that these people have confessed to this crime.