Emmett Till and his mother honored nationally with three monuments

The 14-year-old’s 1955 murder was a catalyst for the Civil Rights movement

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the Biden Administration dedicated three memorials in two states for Emmitt Till. He’s the 14-year-old who was brutally murdered in Mississippi in 1955. His killers were eventually acquitted by an all-white jury. That injustice was one of the primary catalysts for the Civils Rights movement.

68 years after Emmitt Till was brutally murdered in the Mississippi Delta the country is memorializing the tragic end of his life with two monuments in Mississippi and another in Chicago.

A Mississippi Department of Archives and History historical marker outlines the details of the Emmett Till murder trial at the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse, Monday, July 24, 2023, in Sumner, Miss. President Joe Biden is expected to sign a proclamation on Tuesday that establishes a national monument honoring Till, the Black teenager from Chicago whose abduction, torture and killing in Mississippi in 1955 helped propel the civil rights movement. The Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument, located across three sites in Illinois and Mississippi, will be federally protected places. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
FILE - An undated portrait shows Emmett Till. The 14-year-old from Chicago was visiting relatives in Mississippi in August 1955 when he was kidnapped, tortured and killed after witnesses heard him whistle at a white woman. Till's mother insisted on an open-casket funeral, and Jet magazine published photos of his brutalized body. Those images galvanized the civil rights movement. On Feb. 28, 2022, a Mississippi county approved contracts for a bronze statue of Till that will be put in a park. (AP Photo/File) (Associated Press)

Today would have been Emmitt Till’s 82nd Birthday. These memorials honor both Till and his mother Mamie Till-Mobley who pushed for justice following her son’s murder… and without her efforts justice would have never come in this case.

“To the Till family it’s an honor to be with you, you know when I was preparing these remarks, I quite frankly and my colleagues will understand this. I found myself trying to temper my anger. As I was writing. I’m not joking. I can’t fathom what it must’ve been like,” said President Biden in a ceremony at the White House. “I was 12-years-old. No matter how much time has passed how many birthdays, events anniversaries. It’s hard to relive this. it brings it all back as it happened yesterday. Images in your head that you remember.”

RELATED: Nearly 70 years later, Emmett Till’s family still pushing for justice to be served in his brutal murder

One person from North Florida who has spent years researching the Till case is Davis Houck. He’s a professor at Florida State University. He wrote the book “Emmett Till and the Mississippi Press” which discusses the difference between the Black and white press in the 1950′s and how they covered the Till murder. Houck points to Mamie Till-Mobley and her efforts to get justice for her son as the reason why he’s still being honored today. “What perhaps people don’t realize is Emmitt Till’s body came out of the Tallahatchee River we think at that gravel spot. The local police said get that body in the ground first. And so Emmitt Till’s family in Money, MS prepared to have that body to be buried… and a hole was dug,” said Houck. “Mamie Till found out about it and put a halt to it and said no, no, no. That body is coming home to Chicago.”

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MARCH 22: Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ, where the 1955 funeral for Emmett Till was held, is considered an endangered historic place and is currently being considered for designation as a National Monument on March 22, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. Till's brutal murder in Money, Mississippi in the summer of 1955 and his mother's decision to hold an open-casket funeral to expose the brutality of the murder is credited with starting the modern civil rights movement. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) (2021 Getty Images)

The whole Emmitt Till saga began when he was accused of whistling at a white woman outside a Mississippi market. The woman’s husband is who kidnapped him. That woman was Carolyn Bryant. She died in just the past few months. And even right before she passed away there was a political push to have her arrested after a decades-old warrant was found around a year ago for her that was still active.

Despite that, she was never arrested before she died.

FILE - This 1955 file photo shows Carolyn Bryant. Carolyn Bryant Donham, the white woman who accused Black teenager Emmett Till of making improper advances before he was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 has died Tuesday night, April 25, in hospice care in Louisiana, according to a death report filed Thursday, April 27, 2023, in Calcasieu Parish Coroner’s Office in Louisiana. She was 88. (AP Photo/Gene Herrick, File) (AP1955)

About the Author:

Scott is a multi-Emmy Award Winning Anchor and Reporter, who also hosts the “Going Ringside With The Local Station” Podcast. Scott has been a journalist for 25 years, covering stories including six presidential elections, multiple space shuttle launches and dozens of high-profile murder trials.