Documentary Filmmaker, Producer, Host
In February of 2007, I interviewed Keith Beauchamp around the release of his first documentary 'The Untold Story of Emmett Till.'
Five years later, Keith is the Executive Producer/Host 'The Injustice Files.' The next 2 Hour special airs Tuesday, Feb. 21st on Investigation Discovery called 'The Injustice Files: At The End Of A Rope.'
My first paid gig
The interview appeared in a print magazine called My Black Hollywood which is no longer in print or online, but was one of my first paid gigs as an interviewer. I did not say well-paid, but just barely paid. However, Keith Beauchamp and his passion are fascinating and well worth the $43 and some change.
Introducing Keith Beauchamp
Perhaps you know about Emmett Till, the 14 year old black boy murdered, tortured and beaten unrecognizable for whistling at a white woman in 1955 Mississippi. But, what do you know about Emmett Till’s modern day champion?
At 35 (2007), Keith Beauchamp had already directed and produced his life’s work. Writing about Keith Beauchamp without mentioning Emmett Till is like trying to make a BLT without bacon.
Currently, the meat in Beauchamp’s sandwich is the Till Case and will be for years to come. For nine years, Beauchamp struggled making the documentary. Doors were slammed and gathering information and gaining interviews from the 1955 players of the case were sometimes elusive. However, now his investment is paying off and all the doors and windows are flying open.
Snippit of the 2007 Interview for My Black Hollywood
Big Fat Writer (BFW): Once people see the Emmett Till story, they are inspired and touched by Till and by your dedication to the project. How did you get your film noticed? What have you done to encourage more people to see your film and join your cause?
Keith: The first thing I did, and I have to quote [Emmett’s mother] Ms. Mobley, she told me, “In order for you to be successful, you have to use two tactics, the same as I used. Get the people behind you and get the media behind you.” I started speaking at universities and talking about the Till story. I hosted private screenings, which sparked new awareness.
The first big story was published in the New York Times focusing on the film and getting the Till case reopened. Being in New York and in the New York Times was huge and sparked a lot of media attention on the case. I would have never had the same kind of coverage and recognition in my hometown of Baton Rouge.
I went on to get a screening at the United Nations, which was also huge. This was the first time someone went to the United Nations with “American Racism” on the forum. Diplomats were sitting next to hip hop stars. This case helped civil rights activist, diplomats and hip hop stars all come together for the sake of one cause.
BFW: In what way has your own life been changed by the making of this movie?
Keith: Tremendously, I have direction. I have a calling. I want to try to stop trans-generational pain. I love civil rights and fighting to uplift my people. That’s what I want to do. Be an activist and a leader.
BFW: Do you consider yourself to be a civil rights leader now?
Keith: Civil rights activist, yes. I don’t consider myself as being a civil rights leader. I’m fascinated by Dr. King and the heroes and sheroes of the Civil Rights Movement. To be grouped together with these people because of my work is flattering, but I would say I have probably been nurtured by people like Ms. Mobley to be a civil rights activist. But unlike Dr. King, I choose to use film as a new wave of activism.
The new movement is not going to come through one leader speaking about atrocities. The movement will happen through the arts. You can’t control the arts, you can’t control film. Filmmaking is the way I can become a freedom conductor. We shouldn’t play follow the leader, we should all become freedom conductors."
From the Editor's Desk
The full interview with Keith Beauchamp originally ran in the February 2007 edition of My Black Hollywood. The editor had this to say:
"This was an excellent story and one that needs to be kept upfront. Even though we are a small company, there are lots of freelance writers wanting to be published. Unfortunately, neither I nor others can publish everyone wanting to write a story. I'm saying that we (publishers) pick and choose from many to get the best. Your article is one of the best we have featured. Again, thank you."
- Ron/Editor, My Black Hollywood
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The Emmett Till Story
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