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GREENWOOD, Dist. – Today, on what would have been Emmett Till’s 82nd birthday, President Biden is set to sign a historic proclamation, paving the way for the creation of the Emmett Till National Monument, which will also honor his mother’s activism, in Mississippi and Illinois.
This significant move aims to honor the memory of Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, and shed light on the events surrounding Emmett’s tragic murder, which played a pivotal role in the civil rights movement and American history.
The establishment of this national monument seeks to raise awareness about Black oppression, resilience, and bravery in the United States.
In a post on Twitter, Joshua Harris-Till, a relative of the late Emmett Till, called the move an act of courage.
“I could spend every single day arguing with folks who incorrectly compare Emmett to situations that are nothing like this and with folks who say that we should get over it because of how much time has passed. Today we solidify courage, not tragedy,” Harris-Till said.
Expanding the Narrative: Future Plans for Additional Monument Sites
The new Emmett Till National Monument will encompass three crucial historic sites, strategically located in Chicago, Illinois, Sumner, Mississippi, and just outside Glendora, Mississippi. These sites hold immense significance as they were central to the racially motivated murder of Emmett Till in 1955 and the subsequent defining events, including the courageous activism and leadership demonstrated by Mamie Till-Mobley. The monument will serve as a platform for collaboration between the Department of the Interior, the National Park Service, local communities, and organizations to conserve and interpret a broader network of historic sites that contribute to the narrative of Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley.
Emmett Till’s brutal lynching garnered nationwide attention, and Mamie Till-Mobley’s unwavering dedication to honoring her son’s memory through education and activism brought to light the injustices and inequalities faced by Black people during the Jim Crow era. The impact of Emmett Till’s death was felt far beyond Mississippi, influencing the civil rights movement. Notably, Rosa Parks cited Emmett Till as a pivotal reason for her historic act of defiance when she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery city bus.
Honoring Emmett Till’s Legacy: President Biden’s Historic Proclamation
The designation of the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s ongoing commitment to advancing civil rights and racial justice. President Biden previously signed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, a critical step in recognizing lynching as a federal hate crime.
This national monument marks President Biden’s fourth such designation, highlighting the Administration’s dedication to preserving places that contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of America’s history.
The Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument, managed by the National Park Service, spans 5.70 acres across the three historic sites in Illinois and Mississippi. Through the preservation of historical objects and stories at these locations, the monument seeks to educate visitors about Emmett Till’s short life, his tragic murder, the unjust acquittal of his killers, and the courageous activism of Mamie Till-Mobley, who fought to bring attention to the pervasive racism and injustice of her time.
Emmett Till’s journey from Chicago to the Mississippi Delta took a tragic turn when he was accused of making inappropriate advances toward a white female grocery clerk, an accusation later disputed by witnesses. Days after the incident, he was abducted, brutally murdered, and his mutilated body was found in the Tallahatchie River.
Historic Sites Unite: Three Key Locations at the Heart of the Monument
One of the monument’s sites, Graball Landing, near Glendora, Mississippi, is believed to be where Emmett Till’s body was discovered. The community installed a resilient memorial sign in 2008, which has faced multiple acts of vandalism. Another monument site is the Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Bronzeville, Chicago, where Mamie Till-Mobley held an open-casket funeral service for her son, defying authorities’ directives to bury him quickly in Mississippi.
Thousands of people attended the visitation and funeral services, bearing witness to Emmett Till’s tragic fate.
The third monument site is the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi, where the trial of Emmett Till’s murderers took place. Despite compelling evidence, an all-White jury wrongfully acquitted the killers in just over an hour of deliberation. The killers later admitted their crimes to a leading magazine, but justice was never served for Emmett Till.
Community Efforts Recognized: Collaborating for Monument Preservation
Beyond designating the three sites for the Emmett Till National Monument, the proclamation instructs the National Park Service to work alongside local communities and organizations to develop a comprehensive plan for the interpretation and preservation of additional key sites in Mississippi and Illinois related to Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley’s story.
These may include the Glendora Cotton Gin (currently known as the Emmett Till Historic Intrepid Center), Mound Bayou, the Tutwiler Funeral Home, and the Emmett Till Boyhood Home.
Today’s proclamation is a testament to the unwavering efforts of Emmett Till’s family, community leaders, the Black press, and civil rights advocates, as well as the support from local, state, and federal officials to ensure the protection of these historically significant sites and the perpetuation of Emmett Till’s powerful story.
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory have shown their commitment by visiting the sites and engaging with community members to understand their vision for educating the public about this pivotal moment in American history.
Honoring America’s Treasures: The Antiquities Act and Monument Designations
The Antiquities Act has played a crucial role in preserving America’s natural and historic treasures since its inception in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt. The Emmett Till National Monument marks President Biden’s fourth new monument designation, following recent designations in Texas, Nevada, and Colorado.
The establishment of the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument is a significant milestone in commemorating Emmett Till’s legacy and his mother’s courageous activism.
By preserving these historic sites and stories, the national monument aims to educate visitors about the injustices of the past while promoting civil rights and racial justice in the present and future.