Cleaver is here to bestow Kansas City souvenirs a Negro Leagues Baseball Museum T-shirt, some Gates barbecue sauce upon a young filmmaker from New York City named Keith Beauchamp. Over the past two years, Beauchamp has made national news for his documentary, The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till. It revisits the 1955 lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till. The teenager's death helped ignite the civil rights movement.
Over the next hour, agony fills the Gem.
In Beauchamp's film, Till's now gray-haired mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, sits on a couch, calmly recounting her brave role in history.
They lived in Chicago. Emmett was a happy baby, she says. Nothing fazed him. His cousin, Simeon Wright, now in his early sixties, recalls that Emmett had no sense of danger: "Everything was funny to him. He shot some firecrackers within the city limits, which was a no-no."
But a sense of danger was a survival skill for black people in Mississippi, and Emmett wanted to go there to visit his cousins in the summer of 1955. Beauchamp's film shows black men hanging from trees and TV footage of a mob beating a black man for sitting at a lunch counter.
"They always kind of prepped you for going to Mississippi. Told you what the South was like," says Emmett's cousin Wheeler Parker. "I don't know if Emmett was told or not."
Emmett goes to Mississippi anyway. His cousins and their friends spend the days playing in the cotton fields; at night they go to the country store in the center of Money, Mississippi, to play checkers with other boys.
The two-story, whitewashed wooden building with big Coca-Cola signs on its façade is Bryant's grocery store. The white woman working inside is Carolyn Bryant, a dark-haired 1950s beauty.
Inside the store, Emmett buys 10 cents' worth of bubble gum.
"He and I left the store together," Wright recalls. "We didn't have any conversation with Mrs. Bryant. She came out of the store and went to her car ... That's when Emmett whistled at her. The famous wolf whistle."
If Emmett doesn't understand what he's just done, his cousins do. Horrified, they flee as fast as they can.
In the middle of the night, three days later, two men Carolyn Bryant's husband, Roy, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam charge into the house were Emmett is staying. Armed with a pistol and a flashlight, they ransack the house until they find Emmett. They drag him away.
Three days pass before someone finds Emmett's body in the Tallahatchie River. It's so badly beaten that his great uncle, Mose Wright, can identify it only by Emmett's ring, engraved with his initials.
The Tallahatchie County sheriff wants an immediate burial a literal cover-up but Mamie Till-Mobley demands that her son's body be shipped home. The pine box arrives with instructions that it's not to be opened. The funeral director unlocks it anyway. "When I came to the funeral home, about three blocks away, an odor met me that nearly knocked me out," Till-Mobley remembers. "It was Emmett's body. That's how the smell was so strong, until it covered a two- or three-block area."
Her next words are hauntingly matter-of-fact.