Civil Rights Limited Series 'Women of the Movement' a Go at ABC

Marissa Jo Cerar-Gina Prince-Bythewood
Polly Antonia Photography; Samuel Trotter

ABC has ordered Women of the Movement, a limited series about the civil rights movement.

The six-episode season, set to air in 2021, will focus on Mamie Till Mobley, who devoted her life to seeking justice for Emmett Till, a 14-year-old whose murder in the Jim Crow South was a catalyst for the movement. The announcement of the series comes on the 65th anniversary of his death, and the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Marissa Jo Cerar (The Handmaid's Tale, Shots Fired) created the series, which has been in development for a year, and will serve as showrunner. Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Old Guard) will direct the first episode and is among the executive producers, which also include Jay-Z and Will Smith.

"Today marks 65 years since the tragic murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till. This limited series will shine a light on the determined pursuit of justice by Emmett's mother, Mamie Till Mobley," said ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke. "Their story involves inconceivable heartbreak and brutality but also the enduring love of a mother and her son, galvanizing a movement that carved the path for today's racial justice movement. We are honored to be bringing their story to ABC backed by an all-star producing team."

Said Cerar, "I am thrilled to bring this project to television. It is unfortunately very timely, and my hope is to give the audience a chance to learn who Emmett Till really was — the boy, rather than the victim or the martyr — while also showcasing Mamie’s astonishing strength in the face of a mother’s worst nightmare. Telling Emmett and Mamie's story is a responsibility I have not taken lightly since I began this journey last year, because this is more than a tragedy; it's a story about a mother's unwavering love of her son and her commitment to bettering the lives of all Black people. I can't wait to start filming. With the brilliant Gina Prince-Bythewood as our director, we could not be in better hands."

The series is based on Devery S. Anderson's book Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement.

"The story of Emmett Till and Mamie Till is not one I want to tell. It is a story I need to tell," said Prince-Bythewood. "I am grateful to be on this journey with incredible collaborators who are determined to honor this mother and son with truth, authenticity and humanity."

Kapital Entertainment produces Women of the Movement. Executive producers are Jay-Z, Jay Brown and Tyran "Ty Ty" Smith of Roc Nation; Will Smith and James Lassiter of Overbrook Entertainment; Kapital's Aaron Kaplan, Dana Honor and Michael Lohmann; Cerar, Prince-Bythewood, Rosanna Grace  of Serendipity Film Group, Alex Foster and John Powers Middleton of Middleton Media Group and David Clark of Mazo Partners.