After facing backlash for promoting his upcoming film about Emmett Till's mother in the style of the popular Colin Kaepernick Nike meme, Jesse Williams deleted almost all of his social media posts using the meme.
On Monday, the Grey's Anatomy star announced his directorial debut with Till, which will tell the story of Emmett Till's mother, Mamie Till Mobley. He shared the news with a series of images of Mamie Till Mobley accompanied by the slogan, "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything" — the tagline from Nike's recent campaign starring Kaepernick, who sits at the center of the NFL National Anthem controversy.
The slogan was superimposed over several photos of Mamie, including one in which she stands sobbing over her son's casket. The hashtag #TiLLtheMovie appeared on each photo.
Many found the idea that Williams would conflate the two ideas disrespectful and pointed out that Mamie Till Mobley did not make the choice to have her son murdered, and that his death was not a sacrifice.
"Jesse Williams posted that photo of Mamie Till with the Kaepernick quote like she made a choice to sacrifice her son to uh... murder," one Twitter user wrote Monday. "Let's think about things before we slap a meme over it."
Jesse Williams posted that photo of Mamie Till with the Kaepernick quote like she made a choice to sacrifice her son to uh... murder.
Let's think about things before we slap a meme over it.— Happenstance the Rapper (@BeezHunny) September 24, 2018
"Jesse Williams just made Emmett Till into a Nike meme. Bruh....." another wrote.
Jesse Williams just made Emmett Till into a Nike meme. Bruh.....— I tweet (@c__suave) September 24, 2018
"A Black mother's pain at the horrific murder of her son should not be counted as 'sacrifice' and even her decision for an open casket is not properly framed as 'sacrifice' or something to believe in..." someone else said. "Please reconsider. This was not fully thought out, sir."
A Black mother's pain at the horrific murder of her son should not be counted as "sacrifice" and even her decision for an open casket is not properly framed as "sacrifice" or something to believe in...
Please reconsider. This was not fully thought out, sir.— ⚖ (@JagunEsq) September 24, 2018
Williams, who is known for his social activism, deleted all of the images from his Twitter and Instagram profiles, save for one that showed Emmett's uncle in court pointing out the white men who'd killed his nephew. Williams has not yet commented on or acknowledged the backlash aside from deleting the controversial photos.0comments
Till will focus on Mamie Till Mobley following Emmett's lynching by white men after being accused of flirting with a white woman in the South in 1955. Mobley famously insisted that her 14-year-old son's funeral be open-casket, which is widely credited for sparking the civil rights movement. The film is based on Keith A. Beauchamp's 2005 documentary, The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till, which led the United States Department of Justice to reopen the Till case in 2004.
Production on the film is set to begin in summer 2019, with Whoopi Goldberg set to produce and act in the project.