President Biden Signs Proclaimation for a National Emmett Till Monument in Mississippi & Chicago
“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,” a White House official told CNN.
Till was a 14-year-old boy lynched in 1955 after allegedly flirting with a White woman, Carolyn Bryant Donham, in a convenience store. In response, her husband Roy Bryant and his friend J.W. Milam later took Till from his bed and forced him into the back of a pickup truck. They viciously beat him before shooting him in the head and throwing his body into the Tallahatchie River.
Both were acquitted in the following murder trial, and directly after sold a detailed account of how they committed the murder to journalists. Till-Mobley's decision to have an open-casket funeral, revealing the horrible injuries her son endured, is often credited as the initial spark that ignited the civil rights movement.
The monument will feature the Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Chicago, where Till-Mobley held the funeral, as well as Graball Landing in Mississippi, where Till’s body was recovered from the Tallahatchie River. It will also include the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse, where Till’s murderers were acquitted.
Last October, Till was honored with a statue near the site of his murder in Mississippi. In December, both Till and Till-Mobley were posthumously bestowed the Congressional Medal of Honor to be displayed in the National Museum of African American History alongside Till's casket. Illinois Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth has also introduced legislation to designate the church where Till’s funeral was held as a national monument.