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United States: Emmett Till to be honoured by national monument

Emmett Till's gravestone at Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois, United States.   -  
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The United States' President Joe Biden will establish a national monument honouring Emmett Till and his mother Mamie Till-Mobley, a White House official said Saturday.

A Black teenager from Chicago, Till was abducted, tortured and killed in 1955 after he was accused of whistling at a White woman in Mississippi.

Biden will sign a proclamation on Tuesday to create the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument across three sites in Illinois and Mississippi.

Tuesday is the anniversary of Emmett Till's birth in 1941.

Sparking the Civil Rights Movement

The teenager was aged just 14 when he was accused by Caroline Bryant Donham of whistling and making sexual advances towards her while she was working in a store in the small community of Money. At the time, Till was visiting relatives in Mississippi. 

Till was later abducted and his body eventually pulled from the Tallahatchie River, where he had been tossed after he was shot and weighted down.

Two White men, Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam, were tried on murder charges about a month after Till was killed, but an all-White Mississippi jury acquitted them. Months later, they confessed to killing Till in a paid interview with Look magazine. Bryant was married to Donham in 1955. She died earlier this year. 

Till's mother's insistence on an open casket to show the world how her son had been brutalized and Jet's magazine's decision to publish photos of his mutilated body helped galvanize the Civil Rights Movement.

Tributes to Emmett Till

The monument will be the fourth Biden has created since taking office in 2021, and just his latest tribute to the younger Till.

For Black History Month this year, Biden hosted a screening of the movie “Till,” a drama about his lynching.

In March 2022, Biden signed the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act into law. Congress had first considered such legislation more than 120 years ago.

The Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument will protect places that are central to the story of Till's life and death at age 14, the acquittal of his white killers and his mother's activism, including the Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Bronzeville, a historically Black neighbourhood on Chicago’s South Side. Thousands of people gathered at the church to mourn Emmett Till in September 1955.

The Mississippi locations are Graball Landing, believed to be where Till’s mutilated body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River, and the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi, where Till’s killers were tried and acquitted by an all-white jury.

The Justice Department announced in December 2021 that it was closing its investigation into Till's killing.

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