Keith Beauchamp speaks to Bay Shore students about Emmett Till


Filmmaker Kieth Beauchamp spoke to students at the Ethnic Pen assembly about his experience with racism, the story of Emmett Till, and why it needs to be addressed. 

“We were thrilled to be able to screen scenes from our keynote speaker, Keith Beauchamp’s, award-nominated film, “Till,” in English classes prior to the Ethnic Pen assembly,” said Ms. Handley, event organizer. “ In studying the film prior to Beauchamp’s visit, the students were able to connect on a deeper and more meaningful level with this year’s speaker.” 

Beauchamp is dedicated to keeping the story of Emmett Till alive. He worked on creating the movie “Till,” told from the viewpoint of Beauchamp’s old friend, Mamie Till, Emmet Till’s mother, and he faced extreme racism when he was a kid after dancing with a white classmate. This moment sparked Beauchamp into investing his life into learning and preserving all that he could of the story of Emmett Till. 

“[I] can make a difference and use that as my activism tool to inspire generations to be awakened again, to cause change,” said Beauchamp. “And so the first thing I decided that I would do before I took on the task of telling the story of  Till, I had to meet Mamie Till Mobley. Because just like now, we had those conversations about appropriation, and who are telling our stories, and it’s nothing new that you’re hearing today.” 

The assembly allowed all students to take part in Ethnic Pen, not just those on the committee. Students heard Beauchamp’s speech, which reflected on his experience with racism, how it affects the world, his relationship with Mamie Till, and of course, the story of Emmet Till. 

“It was really cool to hear about his experiences and about how he’s fighting back against racism,” said Laura Luranco, freshman. 

In addition to Beauchamp, teachers and guest speakers presented various workshops throughout the day. Before Beauchamp’s keynote address, student groups performed for the student body, including the Harmonaires.  

At the annual lunch, winners of the Ethnic Pen writing contest shared their pieces with the speakers and students, followed by an open mic. Students were able to connect and share ideas with each other and reflect on what they had learned. 

“The part that I enjoyed the most about Ethnic Pen was the lunch after when I was able to hear the works of the winners being read in their voices with their own emotions while also being able to experience the works of others who could share,” said Jayden Chambers, sophomore.