By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
President Joe Biden signed a proclamation on Tuesday, July 25, establishing a national monument honoring Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Black teenager whose tragic lynching in 1955 ignited a nationwide outcry against racial injustice and discrimination.
Named the “Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument,” the historic memorial will span three sites in Illinois and Mississippi, symbolizing locations that played a central role in Till’s heartbreaking story.
“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,” White House officials explained.
The three sites that will be part of the monument are the Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Chicago, where Till’s mother held an open-casket funeral to display her son’s brutalized body; Graball Landing in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, believed to be the location where Till’s body was retrieved from the Tallahatchie River; and the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi, where Till’s murderers were acquitted.
Till’s tragic story unfolded in August 1955 while visiting relatives in Mississippi.
Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, two white men, allegedly kidnapped, brutally beat, and lynched him for allegedly whistling at a white woman.
The men’s trial, which occurred before an all-white jury, ended in their acquittal, sparking outrage and disbelief nationwide.
However, in a later interview with Look Magazine, Bryant and Milam admitted their responsibility for Till’s heinous murder, revealing the justice system’s deeply flawed and biased nature during that era.
As Till’s story continued to gain national attention, the brave actions of his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, became a driving force behind the Civil Rights Movement.
She insisted that her son’s casket remain open during the funeral, allowing the world to witness the brutality of racial violence and the stark realities of America’s rampant racism.
Photographs of Till’s battered and mutilated body were published in Jet Magazine, impacting the collective consciousness, and mobilizing people across the nation to fight against racial injustice.
Earlier this year, Carolyn Bryant Donham, the white woman whose false accusation against Till triggered the events leading to his lynching, died at the age of 88.
Donham passed away in Westlake, Louisiana, while receiving hospice care, according to a death record from the Calcasieu Parish Coroner’s Office.
President Biden’s decision to establish the national monument is seen as crucial to acknowledging and preserving the painful history of racial violence in the United States.
By commemorating Emmett Till’s life and the legacy of his courageous mother, the monument will serve as a reminder of the immense sacrifices made by those who fought for civil rights, and it will stand as a beacon of hope and a call to action against ongoing injustices.
Administration officials said the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument would symbolize resilience, progress, and the enduring fight for a more equitable society.