MetroFocus: January 11, 2023

Tonight, Gotham Gazette’s Ben Max joins us for in-depth analysis of Governor Kathy Hochul’s 2023 State of the State.

“Till” tells the heartbreaking true story of the 1955 kidnapping, torture, and lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till, through the eyes of his mother Mamie Till-Mobley.  Mamie’s decision to hold an open casket funeral for her son, forcing the world to see the abuse he endured, was a major moment in Civil Rights history.  New evidence has emerged in the Emmett Till case as recently as this year, but no one has ever been convicted for his murder.  Joining us to discuss the film is Keith Beauchamp, a producer and co-writer of “Till,” who also directed a documentary on Emmett Till and founded Till Freedom Come Productions, a company devoted to socially significant projects that can both teach and entertain.

TRANSCRIPT

> GOVERNOR HOCHUL UNVEILS HER AMBITIOUS AGENDA INCLUDING CHANGES TO BAIL REFORM AND THE MINIMUM WAGE TO INFLATION.

THE GOVERNOR'S WISH LIST MEANS FOR YOU.

> PLUS THE MURDER OF EMMIT TIL THROUGH THE EYES OF HIS GRIEVING MOTHER.

METRO FOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

THIS IS 'METRO FOCUS.'

'METRO FOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND ED GAR, THE PETER FUND.

BARBARA ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE FOUNDATION AND BY --

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METRO FOCUS.'

GOVERNOR HOCHUL DELIVERED HER SECOND STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS ON TUESDAY AND HER FIRST SINCE BEING ELECTED FOR A FULL TERM.

HOCHUL LAID OUT A BROAD AGENDA OF PRIORITIES INCLUDING PUBLIC SAFETY, MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES AND HOUSING, OUTLINED A SET OF POLICY PROPOSALS.

JOINING US WITH ANALYSIS OF THE GOVERNOR'S STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS IS BEN MAX, EDITOR GOTHAM GAZETTE.

PUBLIC SAFETY AND MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES AND HOUSING, YOU AGREE THOSE ARE THE TOP PRIORITIES THAT SHE UNVEILED YESTERDAY?

ABSOLUTELY.

I PUT THOSE AT THE TOP.

I WOULD ADD NEXT TO THOSE IS SHE LAID OUT ADDITIONAL PRETTY AMBITIOUS STEPS AROUND CLIMATE ACTION AND MIIGATING CLIMATE CHANGE AND ADAPTING TO CLIMATE CHANGE SO I WOULD PUT THOSE RIGHT BEHIND THEM.

SHE GOT INTO ISSUES LIKE TRANSPORTATION AND EDUCATION AS WELL, SORT OF A LITTLE FURTHER DOWN THE PRIORITY LIST.

MINIMUM WAGE, WE'LL TALK ABOUT THOSE IF TIME PERMITS.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE ACTIONS SHE PROPOSED IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE THOSE GOALS, THOSE PRIORITIES AND LET'S GO ONE AT A TIME.

THE FIRST SHE MENTIONED WAS PUBLIC SAFETY.

THE FIRST THING SHE MENTIONED ABOUT PUBLIC SAFETY WAS BAIL REFORM, THE LIGHTNING ROD FOR DEMOCRATS, BUT SHE WENT THERE.

SHE SAID THAT BAIL REFORM LAWS OF 2019 COULD USE SOME IMPROVEMENT.

WHAT IS SHE PROPOSING TO CHANGE ABOUT THE BAIL REFORM?

SO IT'S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT THE BAIL REFORM'S PASSED IN 2019 HAVE BEEN CHANGED TWICE ALREADY, INCLUDING BY GOVERNOR HOCHUL LAST YEAR UNDER HER INSISTENCE THAT SOME MORE ALLEGED CRIMES OR REPEAT OFFENSES, DIFFERENT TYPES OF CRIMES WERE ADDED IN TO BE BAIL ELIGIBLE.

NOW WHAT SHE WANTS TOODS IS SORT OF WHAT SHE SEES AS AN IMPORTANT STEP TO WORK IN TANDEM WITH THAT, WHICH IS FOR OFFENSES THAT ARE BAIL ELIGIBLE THAT JUDGES HAVE THE ABILITY TO SET BAIL, SHE WANTS TO NOW REMOVE THIS LEAST RESTRICTIVE STANDARD WHERE JUDGESEN DON'T HAVE TO BATTLE BETWEEN THE LEAST RESTRICTED MEANS PRETRIAL AND THE REQUIREMENTS THAT THEY MAYBE ABLE TO INSIST ON BAIL IN CERTAIN CASES.

SHE WANTS TO REMOVE THE LEAST REINSTRUCTIVE ENVIRONMENT SO THAT JUDGES CAN SET BAIL IN MORE INSTANCES THAT ARE BAIL ELIGIBLE.

SHE WILL BE SUCCESSFUL IN THAT IS THE PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS, WHO HAVE QUITE A POWER IN ALBANY RIGHT NOW DON'T WANT IT.

IT'S NOT JUST THE PROGRESSIVES REALLY.

IT'S A LOT OF OF DEMOCRATS WHO EVEN MOVE MORE INTO THE MODERATE LEAN.

INCLUDING THE TWO LEGISLATIVE LEADERS.

I DON'T THINK THERE'S A LOT OF APPETITE AMONG EITHER OF THEM TO DO HR CHANGES TO THE BAIL LAW.

THEY BELIEVE THEY HAVE MADE CHANGES AND REALLY WANT TO LOOK AT IMPLEMENTATION OF THE LAW.

BUT THE GOVERNOR HAS IMMENSE POWERS IN THE BUDGET PROCESS AND THAT'S WHAT SHE USED YEAR TO PUSH THROUGH THE CHANGES THAT I MENTIONED TO BAIL LAW.

SO THERE'S A CHANCE SHE WOULD USE THAT LEVERAGE AGAIN TO INSIST ON THIS CHANGE THIS YEAR.

SO WE'LL SEE.

IT DID NOT SEEM TO GET A GREAT RECEPTION IN THE CHAMBER WHERE SENATORS ARE SITTING.

BUT THERE'S A LONG WAY TO GO BETWEEN NOW AND WHEN A BUDGET IS DUE BY APRIL 1st.

ONE PERSON THAT LIKE THIS IS IS MAYOR ADAMS.

WE'LL SEE IF THAT HAS ANY CLOUT.

WHAT ELSE DID THE GOVERNOR PROPOSE TO BATTLE CRIME?

I'M REALLY GLAD YOU ASKED THAT QUESTION BECAUSE WE OFTEN GET SO FOCUSED ON BAIL REFORM, WHICH THE GOVERNOR HAS NOTED, ASK THERE ARE OTHER THINGS THAT WERE IN AGENDA AND OBVIOUSLY UNDER THIS CATEGORY SHE WANTS TO PUT HR MONEY INTO VIOLENCE PREVENTION PROGRAMS.

SHE WANTS TO PUT RESOURCES INTO ALTERNATIVES TO INCARCERATION PROGRAMS AND REENTRY SERVICES.

THOSE ARE A COUPLE KEYS TO TRYING TO PREVENT CRIME IN THE FIRST PLACE, WITH US ALSO RECIDIVISM, WHICH IS A MAJOR FOCUS FOR THE GOVERNOR AND MAYOR ADAMS.

SO THERE'S A VARIETY OF PROGRAMS SHE'S TALKING ABOUT ADDING RESOURCES TO, AND I'LL NOTE IT'S IMPORTANT TO MENTION, THIS STATE OF THE STATE POLICY AGENDA GETS COUPLED WITH THE GOVERNOR'S EXECUTIVE BUDGET COMING UP LATER THIS MONTH, WHERE WE SEE HOW POLICY MEETS HER SPENDING PLANS AND THEN THOSE TOGETHER BECOMES THE NEGOTIATIONS FOR HEARINGS WITH THE LEGISLATURE.

SHE TRANSITIONED FROM PUBLIC SAFETY TO MENTAL HEALTH CARE SERVICES SINCE YOU SAID THAT, IN FACT, PUBLIC HEALTH CARE SERVICES IS PART OF REDUCING OR INCREASING PUBLIC SAFETY WHEN PROVIDED TO THE MOST IN NEED.

WHAT IS SHE PROPOSING?

SHE'S PROPOSING A $1 BILLION PROJECT.

WHAT DOES IT ENTAIL?

I WOULD SAY TWO OF THE TOP THINGS THAT WOULD GO A LONG WAY TO SPENDING THAT BILLION DOLLARS ARE WORKING TO BRING MORE INPATIENT PSYCHIATRIC BEDS BACK INTO SERVICE.

HUNDREDS OR OVER A THOUSAND OF THEM WERE TAKEN OFFLINE DURING THE PANDEMIC TO SHIFT HOSPITAL CAPACITY TO DEAL WITH THE COVID CRISIS.

SO BRINGING HOSPITAL BEDS BACK INTO PSYCHIATRIC SERVICE.

THEN THERE'S A PLAN TO FUND 3,000 PLUS UNITS OF SUPPORTIVE HOUSING WITH SOCIAL SERVICES ON SITE.

AND THEN ESSENTIALLY, WHICH WE HAVE SEEN REPORTING AND DONE ELSEWHERE, THE QUESTION AROUND THE CONTINUUM OF CARE AND HOW INPATIENT SERVICES THEN GET TRANSFERRED TO OUTPATIENT SERVICES THERE'S BEEN HUGE GAPS THERE.

SO THE TEMPORARY HOSPITALIZATION, WHETHER IT'S AN INITIAL 72 HOURS OR LONGER, WHERE DO PEOPLE GO AFTER THAT ASK HOW ARE THEY STILL TREATED WHEN THEY ARE NOT THIS AN INPATIENT SETTING.

THAT'S A BIG PIECE OF THE PLAN AS WELL IS ENHANCING THAT CONTINUUM OF CARE.

FOR TIME SAKE, LET'S MOVE ON TO HOUSING.

BUT IT'S A BILLION DOLLARS.

THAT DOES SOUND LIKE A LOT OF MONEY.

IT IS A LOT OF MONEY, BUT WHEN YOU CONSIDER THAT THE CURRENT BUDGET IS $220 BILLION, IF IT'S AS SERIOUS A NEED AS THE ABOVE NORTH SAID, IS A BILLION DOLLARS ENOUGH?

THAT'S A QUESTION WE'LL HAVE TO LOOK AT.

HOPEFULLY THE STATE LEGISLATURE WILL DO ITS DUE DILIGENCE AND LOOK AT AS WELL INCLUDING THE SERIES OF BUDGET HEARINGS COMING UP.

THAT WILL BE DEBATED.

WE DON'T KNOW UNTIL WE SEE THE BUDGET THAT I MENTIONED IF THAT'S AN ADDITIONAL BILLION DOLLARS ON TOP OF SOME EXISTING PROGRAMS OR EXACTLY HOW THE GOVERNOR IS QUANTIFYING IT.

THE OTHER THING IS THAT IT'S VERY COSTLY TO PROVIDE SOME OF SERVICES, BUT IN THE END, IT CAN ALSO BES COST SAVINGS TO DO SUPPORTIVE HOUSING WHERE IT'S LESS EXPENSIVE THAN PAYING FOR SO MANY HOSPITALIZATIONS OF PEOPLE OVER AND OVER AGAIN FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE FALLING THROUGH THE CRACKS.

LET'S TURN TO HOUSING WHAT THE GOVERNOR IS CALLING THE NEW HOUSING COMPACT.

THE GOVERNOR CALLED FOR ADDING 800,000 UNITS OVER THE NEXT 10 YEARS.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE WAYS SHE HOPES TO ACCOMPLISH THAT?

THIS IS MAYBE GOING TO BE THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL PIECE.

OBVIOUSLY, THERE WILL BE DEBATE OVER BAIL REFORM AND DEBATE OVER SOME OF THE MENTAL HEALTH PLAN, BUT THE GOVERNOR IS GOING BIG HERE ON HOUSING, WHICH SHE PROMISED TO DO.

WHAT SHE -- THERE'S MANY PILLARS TO THE PLAN, BUT A COUPLE THINGS THAT WILL BE ESPECIALLY INTERESTING IS SHE IS LOOKING TO PUT INTO LAW TARGETS FOR ALL MUNICIPALITIES AND LOCALITIES TO BUILD MORE HOUSING ACROSS THE STATE.

IT WOULD HAVE DIFFERENT TARGETS BASED ON LOCATION, DOWN STATE, UP STATE, BUT KEY PIECES OF THIS ARE THAT EVERYWHERE IN THE STATE NEEDS TO MOVE AHEAD ON ADDING HOUSING SUPPLY AND CAPACITY AND THAT WOULD BE INSISTED UPON BY THE STATE.

THERE WOULD BE DIFFERENT MECHANISMS FOR INCENTIVIZING IT, FOR PUSHING THROUGH HOUING IF LOCALITIES DON'T MAKE IT HAPPEN, A VARIETY OF DIFFERENT MECHANISMS TO ACHIEVE THOSE GOAL, BUT SETTING THE GOALS IS A KEY PIECE OF THIS.

AND THEN ADDING THE INCENTIVES AND THE MECHANISMS TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.

ONE OTHER KEY PIECE I'LL POINT TO IS SHE'S PROPOSING TO REZONE THE IMMEDIATE AREAS AROUND EVERY MTA STOP IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO ADD CAPACITY FOR HOUSING AND DEVELOPMENT AROUND ANY MTA STATION IN THE REGION.

NOT JUST IN THE CITY.

AND A LOT THIS IS GOING TO GET INTERESTING RELATED TO THE CITY SUBURBS, LONG ISLAND AND THE NORTHERN SUBURBS AS WELL BECAUSE THOSE AREAS WE KNOW STATISTICALLY HAVE NOT BEEN BUILDING MUCH HOUSING AT ALL.

THAT'S PRETTY BOLD.

ESPECIALLY THE ONE ABOUT GIVING THE STATE POWER TO OVERRIDE ZONING ORDINANCES.

WHICH I'M SURE IS GOING TO GET A LOT OF BLOWBACK.

WHAT'S YOUR PREDICTION?

IS SHE GOING TO BE SUCCESSFUL HERE?

THIS IS GOING TO BE A REAL POLITICAL BATTLE.

ONE INTERESTING THING OUT OF THE 2022 ELECTION IS THAT THE GOVERNOR DID NOT DO VERY WELL ON LONG ISLAND.

A LOT OF DEMOCRATS LOST SEATS.

CONGRESS DOESN'T EXACTLY MATTER, BUT IT'S PART OF THE POLITICAL PLAYING TEELD.

SO THE QUESTION IS DOES GOVERNOR HOCHUL JUST SAY, YOU KNOW WHAT, I WON.

LONG ISLAND DIDN'T VOTE FOR ME.

THIS IS FOR THE GOOD OF THE STATE.

WE NEED TO ADVANCE MEASURES THAT ARE FOR THE BEST FOR EVERYONE.

I THINK SHE'S GOING TO REALLY TRY TO SELL IT ON LONG ISLAND.

THERE'S A LOT OF WAYS TO DO THAT, INCLUDING TALKING ABOUT GROWTH.

THE IMPORTANCE OF GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT AND JOBS AND CONSTRUCTION AND SO MUCH MORE.

THERE'S WAYS TO DO IT WE'LL SEE HOW EFFECTIVE SHE IS AT IT, BUT THIS IS GOING TO BE INTERESTING.

SHE REPORTS TO A COUPLE OTHER THINGS, BUT LET'S MOVE ON.

A BIG PROPOSAL THAT SHE UNVEILED, IT WAS LINKING MINIMUM WAGE TO INFLATION, WHICH IS HUGE AND HAS BEEN TRIED FOR A LONG TIME.

AND HOW IS THAT GOING TO PLAY?

THINK IT'S GOING TO G OVER WELL.

NEW YORK ADVANCED THIS $15 MINIMUM WAGE PHASED IN IN DIFFERENT REGIONS OF THE STATE OVER A NUMBER OF YEARS.

BUT THAT WAS SEVERAL YEARS AGO.

OBVIOUSLY, INFLATION HAS BEEN HITTING EVERYBODY HARD, BUT AS THE GOVERNOR NOTED, PEOPLE LIVING ON MINIMUM WAGE ARE TRYING TO HIT THE HARD NEST TERMS OF PERCENTAGE OF INCOME THAT'S GOING TO OTHER EXPEBSS THAT HAVE BEEN INCREASING.

THIS IS GOING TO HAVE A VERY SYMPATHETIC EAR IN THES LEGISLATURE.

THERE WAS ALREADY SOME IMPROVEMENT AND OTHERS TO ADVANCE A MONEY MUM WAGE INCREASE PLUS INDEXING TO INFLATION.

SO WE'LL SEE WHAT THE DETAILS WIND UP BEING, BUT SITTING HERE TODAY, I THINK WE'RE VERY LIKELY TO SEE SOMETHING IN THE STATE BUDGET THAT INCREASES THE MINIMUM WAGE ASK TIE IT IS IN SOME WAY TO INFLATION.

THE GOVERNOR PRESENTED SOMETHING THAT HAS SOME EXCEPTIONS OR SOME OFF RAMPS AND WAYS THAT IT MIGHT NOT NECESSARILY BE SET IN STONE FOR THERE TO BE AN INCREASE EVERY YEAR.

BUT A PROGRAM TO GET THERE.

LET ME SAY VERY QUICKLY.

ON THE HOUSING DISCUSSION, I DID WANT WANT TO NOTE THAT PART OF YOUR QUESTION OF WHERE THIS IS GOING TO GO, THE GOVERNOR DID NOT REALLY OUTLINE ANY NEW PROTECTIONS FOR EXISTING TENANTS AND THAT'S GOING TO BE A KEY PIECE OF THE NEGOTIATIONS.

MAYBE SHE DIDN'T OUTLINE ANY OF THAT TO KNOW IT'S GOING TO BE SORT OF A BARGAINING PLACE FOR THE LEGISLATURE.

THAT WILL BE AN INTERESTING PIECE OF IT AS WELL.

THERE'S A PUSH FOR SOME SERIOUS TENANT PROTECTIONS AND WE'LL SEE WHERE THAT HEADS IN THE HOUSING DISCUSSION.

I DEFINITELY WANT TO JUST TOUCH ON THIS VERY QUICKLY.

ON CLIMATE CHANGE, THE GOVERNOR PROPOSED A NUMBER OF THINGS.

THE ONE THING THAT STOOD OUT IS SHE PROPOSED A NEW -- THE END OF THE SALE OF ANY NEW FOSSIL FUEL HEATING EQUIPMENT BY 2030.

I'VE ALREADY HEARD ON TV PEOPLE SAY FIGURE SHE DOES THAT, IT'S GOING TO WIPE OUT THEIR BUSINESSES.

WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN WITH THAT?

THAT'S ONE OF THE FEW VERY BIG PROPOSALS IN THIS STATE OF THE STATE POLICY AGENDA SHE RELEASED.

THERE'S GOING TO BE A LOT OF DEBATE AROUND THAT.

TIMELINES ARE ALWAYS DEBATABLE, BUT ALSO IT'S REALLY INCUMBENT ON THE GOVERNOR TO SHOW THE PATH TO THAT AND HOW IT WOULD NOT IMPACT PEOPLE'S LIVELIHOODS AND THEIR BUSINESSES AND SIGNIFICANTLY IMPACT THE MONEY THEY ARE PAYING AT HOME TO HEAT AND COOL THEIR HOMES.

AND THIS RELATES TO A MAJOR PLAN PUT OUT BY THE STATE'S CLIMATE ACTION COUNCIL AT THE END OF LAST YEAR.

IT WILL BE DISCUSSED.

YOU KNOW HOW IT IS.

WE'RE OUT OF TIME.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US TODAY.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

> 1955, EMMETT TILL, A 14-YEAR-OLD AFRICAN-AMERICAN BOY FROM CHICAGO WAS KIDNAPPED, TORTURED AND MURDERED SIMPLY FOR WHISTLING AT A WHITE WOMAN IN THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI.

HIS MURDER AND THE DECISION BY HIS MOTHER TO HOLD AN OPEN CASKET FUNERAL BROUGHT A FOCUS ON THE FIGHT FOR CIVIL RIGHTS IN THE UNITED STATES DESPITE OR PERHAPS DUE TO THE FACT THAT TILL'S MURDERS WERE NEVER CONVICTED.

EVEN AS NEW EVIDENCE CONTINUES TO EMERGE SOME 67 YEARS LATER, NO ONE HAS YET BEEN HELD LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR EMMETT TILL'S MURDER AND HIS FAMILY CONTINUES TO SEEK JUSTICE.

A NEW MOVIE BEING RELEASED IN THEATERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY TELLS THE STORY OF THE BRUTAL ATTACK ON EMMETT TILL AND ITS AFTERMATH THROUGH THE EYES OF HIS MOTHER.

HERE'S A PREVIEW.

THE FIRST THING I NOTICED WHEN I BECAME A MOTHER WAS THAT MY HANDS WERE BUSY.

WITH MY EYES CLOSED.

JUST LIKE I KNOW HIS LAUGHTER IN A CROWDED ROOM.

IT'S THE SAME THING.

THIS WAS MY BOY.

EMMETT TILL.

THE BODY OF EMMETT TILL HAS BEEN FOUND DEAD.

THEY HAVE TO SEE IT FOR THEMSELVES.

YOU TELL ME, HOW IS RISKING JUROR LIFE GOING TO HELP.

IT CHANGED PEOPLE'S LIVES.

THE LYNCHING OF MY SON HAS SHOWN ME THAT WHAT HAPPENS TO ANY OF US, ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD HAD BETTER BE THE BUSINESS OF US ALL.

JOININGS NOW TO DISCUSS THIS FILM AND HIS LIFELONG PURSUIT OF JUSTICE IS KEITH BEACHAMP.

HE'S THE PRODUCER AND CO-WRITER OF ''TILL'. WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE YOU HERE.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

I WANT TO GET TO THIS FILM IN JUST A MOMENT BUT I'M VERY CURIOUS ABOUT THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE ESSENTIALLY DIVERTED MUCH OF YOUR ADULT LIFE TO PURSUIT OF JUSTICE.

WHAT WAS IT ABOUT HIS STORY THAT SO INTERESTED YOU AND INSPIRED YOU?

THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION.

I HOPE WE HAVE A LITTLE TIME TO SPEAK ON THIS.

MY INTRODUCTION TO EMMETT TILL HAPPENED WHEN I WAS 10 YEARS OLD.

AND I CAME ACROSS A MAGAZINE THAT MY FAMILY KEPT OVER THE YEARS.

AND AS I OPENED THE PAGE ON ONE SIDE OF THE PAGE THERE'S THIS ANGELIC FACE OF THIS LITTLE BOY, I SAW THE IMAGE OF MYSELF AT THAT TIME.

THEN ON THE OTHER SIDE WAS THE FACE OF THIS MONSTER.

I COULD NOT WRAP MY HEAD AROUND WHAT I WAS ACTUALLY LOOKING AT.

SO I RECALL MY MOTHER COME HOME AND SHE LOOKS OVER MY SHOULDER AND FINDS OUT THAT I DISCOVERED THE PHOTOGRAPH OF EMMETT TILL.

SHE LOOKS AT MY FATHER AND HE COMES IN AND THEY BOTH LOOK AT EACH OTHER AND SAY, IT'S TIME TO TELL HIM THE STORY.

THROUGHOUT MY LIFE, EMMETT TILL KEPT RESURFACING.

THE FIRST THING MY PARENTS WOULD TELL ME WAS DON'T LET WHAT HAPPENED TO EMMETT TILL HAPPEN TO YOU.

IT BECAME AN EDUCATIONAL TOOL TO TEACH ME ABOUT THE RACISM THAT STILL EXISTS IN THIS COUNTRY TODAY.

IT WASN'T UNTIL TWO WEEKS BEFORE MY HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION I HAD MY REAL RUN IN WITH RACISM.

AND THAT WAS WHEN I WAS ASSAULTED BY AN UNDERCOVER POLICE OFFICER FOR DANCING WITH A WHITE CLASSMATE OF MINE.

THAT'S WHAT SPURRED ME INTO WANTING TO FIGHT INJUSTICE.

SO I BEGAN TO STUDY CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND IN HOPES OF BECOMING A CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY.

BUT THEN MY JUNIOR YEAR OF COLLEGE, I WAS INTRODUCED TO FILM MAKING.

SO THAT'S HOW MY INTRODUCTION AND JOURNEY TO FIGHT FOR EMMETT TILL STARTED BECAUSE IT WAS AT A COMPANY MEETING.

I WAS ASKED.

IF THERE WAS A FILM I WANT TO TELL A STORY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

AND EMMETT TILL WAS FAR MOST IN MY MIND.

BEFORE I GET TO THE THEATRICAL FILM, YOUR LIFE HAS BEEN THIS JOURNEY TOWARDS JUSTICE FOR EMMETT TILL.

BACK IN MANY YEARS AGO, YOU CREATED A DOCUMENTARY CALLED 'THE UNTOLD STORY OF EMMETT TILL.'

I HAVE BEEN TEACHING A SEMINAR FOR SOME 15 YEARS NOW.

WE STUDY EMMETT TILL.

IT'S ONE OF THE 12 TRIALS WE STUDY.

AND MY STUDENTS HAVE WATCHED THAT DOCUMENTARY.

IT'S AN AWARD-WINNING DOCUMENTARY, MARVELOUS STORY TELLING.

SO WHY DID YOU DECIDE NOW TO CONTINUE THIS JOURNEY, CONTINUE THIS JOURNEY OF STORY TELLING AND TELL EMMETT TILL'S STORY BUT IN A SCRIPTED FILM?

I HAVE TO SAY WHEN I FIRST BEGUN MUTT JOURNEY TO TELL THE STORY, IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A FEATURE FILM.

AND IT ONLY BECAME A DOCUMENTARY BECAUSE I WITNESSED A SCRIPT IN THE EARLY 1995, AND IT WAS OPTION OFF OUR PRODUCERS WHO WORKED ALONGSIDE SHOW TIME.

THEY SAT ON THE PROJECT.

I NEVER HAD HAD CONTROL OF IT SO THREE YEARS I HAD NO CONTROL OF MY MIR OWN WORK.

WITH THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF HIS MOTHER, WHO I MET ALONG THIS JOURNEY, SHE ENCOURAGED ME TO PRODUCE THE DOCUMENTARY IN HOPES TO USE THAT AS A STEPPINGSTONE TO BRING AWARENESS OF THE CASE IN HOPES IT WILL LEAD TO GETTING JUSTICE.

AND JUST THINK ABOUT IT'S AMAZING HOW GOD WORKS IN MANY WAYS.

I DID NOT KNOW WHAT I WOULD ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISH ALONG THIS JOURNEY.

I WAS A YOUNG MAN.

I WAS TRYING TO FIND MY WAY IN SOCIETY AND MY NICHE IN SOCIETY.

BUT WITH SOL ENCOURAGEMENT, WE PRODUCED THIS DOCUMENTARY.

AND IT LED TO THE REOPENING OF THE CASE IN 2005.

SO I CONSIDER MYSELF AN UNINTENTIONAL FILM HEADACHER IN A SENSE.

I DIDN'T GO TO SCHOOL FOR THIS.

BUT ALONG THE WAY, I WAS ABLE TO LEARN THAT FILM MAKING IS MY ACTIVISM TOOL.

YOU MENTION THE ROLE THAT SHE PLAYED IN THIS IN OPENING UP THIS STORY.

AN OPEN CASKET, IF PEOPLE HAVE NOT SEEN THE PHOTOGRAPH, IT'S ALMOST UNRECOGNIZABLE AS BEING A HUMAN BEING, MUCH LESS A 14-YEAR-OLD BOY.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO TELL THE STORY THROUGH THE PRIMPL, IF IT YOU WILL, OF HIS MOTHER?

THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION.

OVER THE YEARS, WE HAVE WITNESSED THIS FILM IN SO MANY DIFFERENT WAYS, BUT ULTIMATELY, I WANTED PEOPLE TO HAVE THE SAME EXPERIENCE THAT I HAD WHEN I MET EMMETT TILL'S MOTHER.

SHE'S PROBABLY THE MOST TERRIFIC PERSON I WILL EVER MEET IN MY LIFETIME.

AND I WANTED PEOPLE TO HAVE THAT EXPERIENCE, THAT BURST OF INSPIRATION WHEN I MET HER AND HOW SHE SPOKE TO HE.

WHEN SHE SPOKE TO ME, HER WORDS MOVED MY SOUL.

SO I JUST FIGURED TELLING THE STORY FROM MY MOTHER'S PERSPECTIVE AND SHOWING HER RELATIONSHIP WITH HER SON, AND I'M A MAMA'S BOY, SO I'M A LITTLE BIAS IN THE TELLING OF THE STORY.

SO BEING ABLE TO TELL THE STORY TO RESURRECT MY MENTOR, THAT WAS SOMETHING I WANTED TO DO.

I WANTED THAT TO BE TRANSFERRED TO KNOW EVERYONE WHO SEES THE STORY.

I WANTED TO HAVE THAT SAME EXPERIENCE THAT I HAD WHEN I FIRST MET MOTHER MOBLEY.

DID YOU FIND WHEN YOU WERE PUTTING THIS FILM TOGETHER ASK BRINGING IN ACTORS AND YOU HAVE SOME WONDERFUL ACTORS.

THE CAST IS MARVELOUS.

DID YOU FIND THAT THIS WAS SORT OF A JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY FOR SO MANY PEOPLE INVOLVED IN HAECING THE FILM ALSO?

I WOULD LIKE TO SAY YES.

YOU HAVE TO THINK ABOUT THIS.

FOR 67 YEARS, MANY HAVE TRIED TO PRODUCE A FILM ON TILL AND WERE NOT SUCCESSFUL, UNFORTUNATELY.

IT HAS A LOT TOOED WITH THE TIMING.

IT HAS A LOT TO DO WITH THE STORY ITSELF BECAUSE IT DEALT WITH THE RACE ISSUE.

IT DEALS WITH THE SEX AND RACE ISSUE, A PROBLEM THAT WE STILL HAVE TODAY TALKING ABOUT IN THE PUBLIC FORUM.

SO WE TRIED IN 1955 AND EVEN IN 1956 TO TELL THE STORY ON THE BIG SCREEN.

SO OF COURSE, IT WAS A CHALLENGE BEING ABLE TO WRITE SOMETHING LIKE THIS AND TO GET SOMEONE TO GREEN LIGHT A PROJECT LIKE THIS AFTER SO MANY YEARS.

AND SO IT WAS DEFINITELY A CHALLENGE FOR ALL OF US WHO WERE INVOLVED.

EVERYONE CAME ON BOARD WITH THEIR A-GAME AND THEY WERE READY TO COMMIT TO TELLING THIS STORY.

IT WAS JUST WONDERFUL TO HAVE LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE A PART OF THIS PROJECT BECAUSE IT'S SOMETHING SPIRITUAL HAPPENING HERE.

IT WAS JUST SOMETHING SPIRITUAL AND MAGICAL ONSET.

SO I JUST LIKE TO TIP MY HAT TO ALL INVOLVED BECAUSE I COULD NEVER THOUGHT IN A MILLION YEARS THAT ANOTHER PART OF MY DREAM, AND I PROMISED BEFORE TO MOTHER MOBLEY, WOULD TAKE PLACE NOW.

THE STORY IS SO COMPELLING.

FOLKS MIGHT KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

THEY WILL KNOW MUCH MORE.

I'M NOT GIVING ANYTHING AWAY, BUT HIS KILLERS, WHO HAD CONFESSED TO KIDNAPPING HIM BUT SAID THEY DIDN'T KILL HIM.

AND WHO SUBSEQUENTLY AFTER THEY ARE FOUND NOT GUILTY GET PAID FOR AB INTERVIEW FOR A MAGAZINE AND ADMIT THAT THEY MURDERED HIM.

NEVER FACED ANY JUSTICE HERE.

SO THE STORY -- PEOPLE ARE GOING TO LEARN THINGS THEY DIDN'T LEARN BEFORE, BUT MY QUESTION TO YOU HERE IS THIS.

YOU AND I COULD TALK FOR HOURS ABOUT THIS.

MY QUESTION TO YOU, OUR LAST QUESTION HERE IS WHAT DO YOU WANT THE PEOPLE WHO WATCH THIS FILM TO TAKE AWAY FROM IT?

I WANT PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS NOT JUST A MOVIE.

IT'S A MOVEMENT.

IT'S A MOVEMENT TO RECONCILE OUR AS YOU STATED, THERE WAS NEVER JUSTICE FOR EMMETT TILL, ASK THAT'S SOMETHING WE CONTINUE TO FIGHT FOR EVEN TODAY.

IF WE SAY THAT THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT WAS THE GREATEST MOVEMENT EVER PRODUCED BY CITIZENS OF THIS COUNTRY, A MOVEMENT THAT WILL CONTINUE TO LONG FOR EVEN TO THIS DAY IN TIME, YOU MUST GO BACK AND UNDERSTAND THE STORY OF EMMETT TILL AND THE COURAGEOUS ACTIONS OF HIS DEAR MOTHER TO UNDERSTAND WHAT WE MUST DO AS A PEOPLE COLLECTIVELY AROUND THIS COUNTRY TO HELP MAKE A NEW MOVEMENT TAKE PLACE.

THAT'S WHAT WE NEED IN THIS COUNTRY.

AS YOU CAN SEE, WE'RE STILL FIGHTING THOSE SAME SOCIAL ISSUES OF OUR PAST.

INTERESTING THAT INVARIABLY THE REACTION OF MY STUDENT WHEN IS THEY LEARN THIS STORY IS HOW COULD THIS POSSIBLY HAVE HAPPENED.

I THINK MUCH OF YOUR WORK, THE DOCUMENTARY, THE FILM NOW, IT HELPS TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION, BUT MORE IMPORTANT HELPS US TO MOVE FORWARD IN DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS.

EMMETT TILL IS OFTEN REFERRED TO AS THE SACK OFFICIAL LAMB OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT.

THE FILM IS CALLED TILL.'

IT'S A POWERFUL FILM.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SPENDING SOME TIME.

SOMEBODY WHO HAS LIVED HUSBAND LIFE IN THE PURSUIT OF JUSTICE.

IT'S A PLEASURE.

YOU BE WELL.

LOOK FORWARD TO TALKING WITH YOU AGAIN SOON.

ABSOLUTELY.

TAKE CARE NOW.

'METRO FOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- BERNARD SCHWARTZ, BARBARA ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE

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