By Tacuma Roeback
On Tuesday, the 82nd anniversary of Emmett Till’s birth, President Joe Biden will sign a proclamation establishing the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument in Illinois and Mississippi.
The new monument will protect and uplift the spaces that tell the story of Till’s abbreviated 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.
This monument will be located at three separate, existing sites in Illinois and Mississippi, including Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Bronzeville, the historically Black neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, where thousands gathered to mourn and bear witness to Till’s death in September 1955.
The monument in Mississippi will include Graball Landing, believed to be where Till’s mutilated body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River. The third is the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi, where Till’s murderers were tried by an all-white jury and acquitted.
The Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument will be President Biden’s fourth new national monument since taking office in 2021.
“The designation reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to advance civil rights and commitment to protecting places that help tell a more complete story of our nation’s history,” a White House official said.
In the last few years, various parties have made a concerted effort to raise awareness around Emmett and his mother’s story.
In April, Argo Community High School in Summit, Illinois, unveiled a life-sized bronze sculpture of Till-Mobley, a former student.
Inscribed on that sculpture is Till-Mobley’s famous quote, which concerns her consequential decision to give her son an open casket at his funeral: “Let them see what I have seen.”
Her anguished decision to allow her son’s mutilated body to be displayed in such a manner at his funeral drew the world’s attention to the cruelty and barbarism of American racism.
Till-Mobley’s decision is one of the pivotal moments that helped galvanize the civil rights movement.