Biden Establishes National Monument Honoring Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley

Emmett Till

President Joe Biden signed a proclamation Tuesday establishing a national monument honoring slain Black teenager Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley.

“Today, on what would have been Emmett’s 82nd birthday, we add another chapter in the story of remembrance and healing,” Biden said at the White House. “I know, no matter how much time has passed, how many birthdays, how many events, how many anniversaries, it’s hard to relive this.”

Chicago native Emmett, 14, was visiting relatives in the Mississippi Delta region, when he was accused of whistling at a White woman at a local store. The teenager was abducted, beaten, lynched and shot. He died on Aug. 28, 1955.

Emmett’s death prompted Civil Rights activists into action across the U.S.

Despite the horrific crime, an all-White jury acquitted his killers.

Related StoryMississippi Grand Jury Refuses to Indict Emmett Till Accuser

Emmett Till and Mamie Till Mobley (Credit: Library of Congress)
Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley (Credit: Library of Congress)

Till’s cousin the Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr. was among those attending Tuesday’s ceremony.

“It has been quite a journey for me from the darkness to the light,” Parker said. “Back then in the darkness, I could never imagine the moment like this, standing in the light of wisdom, grace and deliverance.”

Biden called Till’s racially-motivated death “hard to fathom.”

He praised Vice President Kamala Harris for bringing “fire” to issues she cares about, such as Emmett Till’s death. He recognized the Black press for highlighting issues important to the Black community, then spoke of Mamie Till-Mobley’s pain.

“Insisting on an open casket for her murdered, maimed, and mutilated son — 14 years old. She said, ‘Let the people see what I’ve seen. Let the people see what I have seen.’ My God,” Biden told the audience.

He turned to the current political climate and denounced efforts to erase Black history from school curriculums.

“At a time when there are those who seek to ban books, bury history, we’re making it clear, crystal, crystal clear, while darkness and denialism can hide much, they erase nothing,” Biden said.

“We can’t just choose to learn what we want to know, we have to learn what we should know. We should know about our country. We should know everything. The good, the bad, the truth. Who we are as a nation. That’s what great nation’s do, and we are a great nation,” he continued.

The president reminded the audience — “For only with truth comes healing, justice, repair.”

Biden said he was moved by Emmett’s death after watching Till, the critically acclaimed 2022 film on the teen’s life and his mother’s fight for justice.

The Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument will be spread across three sites in Illinois and Mississippi — at key locations in the Till story.

The locations for the monument will include the Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ on the South Side of Chicago, where Emmett’s mother held the open-casket funeral showing the world the horrific injuries inflicted on her son.

The two other locations are Graball Landing in Miss., which is said to be where the teen’s body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River; and the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse in Sumner, Miss. where Till’s killers were acquitted.

Watch the video below from Tuesday’s White House ceremony: