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The United States Senate awarded Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley the Congressional Gold Medal this week, the U.S. Congress’s highest civilian honor. The honor comes nearly two years after Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced legislation in September 2020.
“His gruesome murder still serves as a solemn reminder of the terror and violence experienced by Black Americans throughout our nation’s history,” Sen. Cory Booker said. “More than six decades after his murder, I am proud to see the Senate pass long-overdue legislation that would award the Congressional Gold Medal to both Emmett and Mamie Till-Mobley in recognition of their profound contributions to our nation.”
Those who spoke in favor of the legislation described it as a long-overdue acknowledgment of what the Till family endured and what they strived to accomplish in fighting racial injustice.
While visiting his uncle Moses Wright in Money, Mississippi, White men kidnapped, beat, and brutally murdered the 14-year old. Till’s alleged crime–whistling at a white woman, which was considered a violation of racist societal codes in the South at the time.
Tills open casket, a request by his mother, fueled the civil rights movement. Jet Magazine’s published pictures of his brutalized body enraged righteous anger in Black Americans.
Mamie Till-Mobley’s Activism
In honor of her son, Till-Mobley continued working for justice, founding the Emmett Till Players. It organized a team of teenagers who traveled throughout the country presenting speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
As she pressed for a re-inspection of Till’s murder in 2004, she started the Emmett Till Justice Campaign.
Moreover, to ensure the FBI and Justice Department investigate cold cases spanning the civil rights era, the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act of 2007 was passed by the campaign.
The story of Till-Mobley’s “Women of the Movement” is currently airing on ABC, which tells her story and her pursuit of justice for her son–Emmett.
Congressional House Sponsor
Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) is sponsoring the House version of the legislation. Rush is also proposing a commemorative postage stamp as a tribute to Mamie Till-Mobley.