WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, the 82nd anniversary of the birth of Emmett Till — the Black Chicago youth whose lynching help launch the civil rights movement — President Joe Biden will establish the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument in Bronzeville at the church where his mutilated body was displayed in his open casket.
A White House official said Saturday that Biden will sign a proclamation to establish the monument at three sites, one on Chicago’s South Side and two in Mississippi.
“The new monument will protect places that tell the story of Emmett Till’s too-short life and racially motivated murder, the unjust acquittal of his murderers, and the activism of his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, who courageously brought the world’s attention to the brutal injustices and racism of the time, catalyzing the civil rights movement,” the official said.
Till, 14, was killed Aug. 28, 1955, by white men while visiting relatives in Mississippi.
He was kidnapped from his great-uncle’s home for allegedly whistling at a white woman. History.com recounts that Till’s “assailants — the white woman’s husband and his brother — made Till carry a 75-pound cotton gin fan to the banks of the Tallahatchie River and ordered him to take off his clothes. The two men then beat him nearly to death, gouged out his eye, shot him in the head and then threw his body, tied to the cotton gin fan with barbed wire, into the river.”
The monument will consist of three sites:
- Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ, 4021 S. State St. Till’s lynching became a turning point in civil rights history because a key decision by his mother showed the world her son was a victim of lynching.
Mamie Till-Mobley insisted on an open casket for his Sept. 6, 1955 funeral at the church so the world could see Till’s mutilated body and witness the deadly results of race-based violence.
Photographs of Till’s body published in two Chicago-based Black publications, Jet Magazine and The Chicago Defender and other papers sparked an outcry.
Till’s original casket is on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
- Graball Landing in Mississippi, where Till’s body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River.
- The Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi, where Till’s killers were “wrongly acquitted” after being tried by all-white jury.
Tuesday’s proclamation signing will be Biden’s third Till-related action.
In January, Biden signed a measure awarding the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously to Till and his mother.
The bill said in part Till-Mobley “in the midst of evil, injustice and grief became a catalyst for the civil rights movement and continued in the years to come as she worked for justice and honored the legacy of Emmett Till.”
In February, during Black History Month, Biden and first lady Jill Biden hosted a White House screening of the movie “Till.”
In March 2022, at a ceremony on the White House’s South Lawn, with members of Till’s extended family present, Biden signed The Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act. The law for the first time defines lynching as a federal hate crime — and finally was passed after Congress ignored race-related hate crimes for decades.