Feb 25, 2022 - Things to Do

Staging the trial of Emmett Till's murderers

boy in a hat

Emmett Till. Photo: Bettman/Getty Images Contributor

When a transcript of the 1955 trial of Emmett Till's murderers — who were found not guilty — was unearthed in 2005, it shed a modern light on a monumental injustice of the U.S. legal system.

  • It also opened the door for a moving theatrical experience premiering this weekend at the DuSable Museum of African American History in partnership with the Collaboraction Theater Company.

The show: "Trial in the Delta: the Murder of Emmett Till," offers an immersive docu-drama style reenactment of the trial.

  • The audience co-mingles in the "courtroom" with the actors playing Till's family and witnesses.

What they're saying: "While what happened during this trial is certainly a story of America, at its core, 'Trial in the Delta' is a Black story," says Collaboraction member and co-writer G. Riley Mills.

  • "It's a story of Mamie Till, Emmett Till, and how systemic oppression and white supremacy got prioritized over the life of a beautiful, young Black boy in 1955."

Driving the news: "With the Justice Department recently closing the case on the Emmett Till murder, it seemed like a perfect time to put this story back into the headlines in a way that it's never been before," Mills tells Axios.

  • "This was an immense failure of justice for Emmett and Mamie Till. It will haunt us forever as a country, as it should."

If you go: Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 3pm, preceded by a Community Day gathering at 2pm.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Chicago.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Chicago stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Chicago.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more