Keith Beauchamp (filmmaker)
Keith Beauchamp (born 1972) is a filmmaker based in Brooklyn who investigated the murder of Emmett Till, fifty years after Till's death in 1955, Beauchamp's research eventually led him to create the documentary film The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till , and the reopening of the case by the United States Department of Justice in May 2004.
Beauchamp first encountered the Emmett Till story at age ten while looking through an issue of Jet magazine. In 1996 he started his own research, and found microfilm of articles which listed witness who had not been questioned by police, and references to uncharged participants in the murder, besides J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, who were found not guilty of Till's murder, but later publicly confessed. Through the help of other researchers, Beauchamp contacted witnesses, but he says that it was some years before they trusted him enough to speak on camera. Researching and creating the film took nine years.
Beauchamp says that he almost suffered a similar fate to Till in 1989. He states that as a young man at a dance in a Louisiana nightclub a doorman/bouncer accosted him for dancing with a white girl. According to Beauchamp, an undercover police officer then dragged him outside where he was beaten, before being taken to a police station where he was handcuffed to a chair and beaten further. He says that the abuse only stopped when the police realized that Beauchamp was close friends with the son of a sheriff's department major.
Beauchamp is involved in other film work but credits the Untold Story with occupying and shaping his life in a major way, and his relationship with Mamie Till, Emmett mother's, with inspiring him to create the film. His story was featured in various television shows including "60 Minutes" with Ed Bradley.
In February 2007, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported that both the FBI and a Leflore County Grand Jury, which was empaneled by Joyce Chiles, a black prosecutor, had found no credible basis for Keith Beauchamp's claim that fourteen individuals took part in Till's abduction and murder or that any are still alive. The Grand Jury also decided not to pursue charges against Carolyn Bryant Donham, Roy Bryant's ex-wife. Neither the FBI nor the Grand Jury found any credible evidence that Henry Lee Loggins, currently living in an Ohio nursing home, and identified by Beauchamp as a suspect who could be charged, had any role in the crime. Beauchamp still refuses to name the fourteen people who he says were involved although the FBI and District Attorney have now completed their investigations of his charges and he is free to go on the record. A story by Jerry Mitchell in the Clarion-Ledger on February 18, 2007, describes Beauchamp's allegation that fourteen or more were involved as a "legend." Beauchamp contends that his initiative and extensive work with the FBI have inspired the bureau to re-open several such cold civil rights cases.
- Fact, Fiction of Till's Murder, February 18, 2007, Jackson Clarion-Ledger
- Grand Jury Issues No Indictment in Till Slaying, , February 27, 2007, Jackson Clarion-Ledger
- article by Keith Beauchamp
- interview with Beauchamp by Association of Independent Film Makers, reprinted by New England Film
- review by Roger Ebert, April 22, 2005
- review by Washington City Paper, reprinted by altweeklies.com
- review by Kate Crane, New York Press