President Biden fulfilled a 68-year-old promise by signing a proclamation for the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument.

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President Joe Biden signed a historic proclamation on Tuesday to establish the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument, commemorating the tragic story of Emmett Till, a Black teenager whose abduction and brutal murder in Mississippi in 1955 became a catalyst for the civil rights movement. The signing marked the realization of a promise made by Till’s relatives after his death, bringing national recognition to an enduring American tale.

The monument, spread across three sites in two states, aims to go beyond being solely a civil rights narrative, as expressed by Till’s cousin, Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr. He stated that it is now an ‘American story,’ emphasizing the importance of remembering and learning from this significant chapter in the nation’s history.

Who is Emmett Till?

Emmett Till, a 14-year-old from Chicago, traveled to Mississippi in the summer of 1955 to spend time with his relatives. Shockingly, he was abducted by two white men who subjected him to unspeakable torture and murder. His alleged crime was merely flirting with the wife of one of his kidnappers.

Following his death, Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, courageously demanded an open-casket funeral, allowing graphic images of her son’s mutilated body to be published in Jet magazine. This heart-wrenching display of the brutality inflicted upon her son shocked the nation and galvanized the civil rights movement.

The new national monument includes three critical locations: Graball Landing, where Emmett’s body was discovered in the Tallahatchie River; the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi, where his killers were tried and acquitted by an all-white jury; and the Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Chicago, where Emmett’s funeral was held.

Despite the federal protection now afforded to these sites, efforts to preserve the Till legacy and develop educational programming continue. The Till family members and the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, in collaboration with other organizations, aim to raise funds to restore the sites and ensure their inclusion in the National Park System.

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The establishment of the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument holds significant meaning as conservative leaders, especially at the state and local levels, attempt to limit the teaching of Black history and slavery in public schools. The Biden-Harris administration, through this designation, reaffirms its commitment to advancing civil rights and opposing any attempts to rewrite or erase America’s racist past.