Biden to Establish Emmett Till National Monument

July 24, 2023

President Biden will establish a national monument honoring Emmett Till, whose abduction, torture and murder in 1995 helped spark the Civil Rights movement, the White House said over the weekend.

Biden will sign a proclamation Tuesday to create the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument, honoring both the 14-year-old and his mother, across three sites in Illinois and Mississippi. 

In August 1955, Emmett Till was 14 years old and from Chicago when he visited relatives in the Mississippi Delta, where he was tortured and murdered after a white woman, Carolyn Bryant Donham, accused him of whistling at her at the store where she worked.

Donham’s then-husband Roy Bryant and his half brother J.W. Milam abducted the teenager at gunpoint. After a roughly 45 minute drive, they shot Till in the head, tied a 75-pound cotton gin fan to his neck with barbed wire and threw his body into the Tallahatchie River.

When their case went to trial in Mississippi, an all-white, all-male jury acquitted Bryant and Milam, who’d bee charged with Till’s murder.

Back in Chicago, some 250,000 mourners came out to view Till’s body in an open casket at the insistence of his mother, who later said that “the whole nation had to bear witness to this.”

Mrs. Till-Mobley would go on to become a civil rights activist and teacher. She died in 2003.

A national monument is a protected area similar to a national park, according to the National Park Service, and is intended to preserve at least one nationally significant resource. There are more than 100 national monuments in the U.S.

Tuesday would have been Emmitt Till’s 82nd birthday.

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