Filmmaker Keith Beauchamp on New Docu-Series on Civil Rights-Era Cold Cases
By Brittany Hutson
Heinous crimes committed against people who were seeking their civil rights as many as five decades ago was supposed to be kept buried and forgotten—that is until in 2007 when the FBI launched an investigative effort called the Civil Rights-era Cold Case Initiative, which takes a fresh look at racially-motivated homicides that occurred before 1970. To bring attention to these cases, Investigation Discovery will begin airing a new weekly television series called “The Injustice Files” tonight at 9pm ET. The show will feature Keith Beauchamp, critically-acclaimed filmmaker of the 2005 film, “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till,” who collaborated with the FBI and uncovers new information that had not been found before. Three cases will be profiled, starting with the case of Natchez, Miss. activist, Wharlest Jackson. TAP spoke with Beauchamp about the process of creating the series and how much Emmett Till has really influenced him personally and professionally.
So Keith, first, it was your critically-acclaimed film, The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till and now The Injustice Files. What attracts you to these types of stories?
I was basically inspired to tackle these stories because of my first film on Emmett Till. Once I saw a Jet magazine photograph [of Emmett], the photograph stayed on my mind and I’ve always wanted to do something to help the family. When I got older, I had the opportunity to meet the late Mrs. Mamie Till-Mobley and she was my inspiration. She really put everything in perspective for me and I realized that filmmaking was my calling and that tackling these stories was my calling.
Yes; I know you studied criminal justice in school, but left to do entertainment. You started writing music videos but found that wasn’t for you.
Yes, I went through that whole phase. I left my junior year of college and it was a successful career; making music videos was good money at that time, but I felt I wasn’t giving back to my community in any way. I really wanted to do something that was impactful not only for this country, but for the world as a whole. I grew up in the deep south; I’m from Louisiana, so I’ve always tried to speak for those who can no longer speak for themselves. Of course, after my experience of dealing with the murder of Emmett Till and under the encouragement of the late Mrs. Till-Mobley, I decided to take on these other cases as well because I saw how successful using filmmaking could be to solve these crimes.