President Joe Biden will set up a national monument honoring Emmett Till and his mother, a black boy from Chicago who was abducted, tortured and killed in Mississippi in 1955 for allegedly whistling to a white woman, White House officials announced Saturday.
Biden plans to sign a declaration on Tuesday to create three Emmett Till, Mamie and Till-Mobley national monuments in Illinois and Mississippi, the official said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the White House has not formally announced the president’s plans.
Tuesday is the anniversary of the birth of Emmett Till in 1941.
The memorial will protect sites central to stories such as Till’s life and death at age 14, his acquittal of a white murderer, and his mother’s activism. The claim that Till’s mother would open the coffin to show the world how her son had been brutally abused and Jet magazine’s decision to publish a photo of the mutilated body helped galvanize the civil rights movement.
Biden’s decision also comes at a difficult time over race issues in the United States. Conservative leaders oppose teaching slavery and black history in public schools and embedding diversity, equity and inclusion programs in everything from college classrooms to corporate boardrooms.
On Friday, Vice President Kamala Harris criticized Florida’s revised black history curriculum, which included an education that enslaved people benefited from skills learned at the hands of those who denied their freedom. The Florida Board of Education has approved a curriculum that meets the bill signed by Republican presidential candidate Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has condemned the liberal indoctrination of public schools.
“How can anyone suggest that there is any benefit in being exposed to this level of dehumanization in the midst of such atrocities?” Harris asked in a speech delivered from Jacksonville, Florida.
DeSantis said he had no role in formulating the state’s new education standards, but defended elements of how enslaved people benefited.
“It’s all factual,” he replied.
Monuments to Till and his mother will include three locations in both states.
The Illinois site is the Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Bronzeville, a historically black neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. By September 1955, thousands of people had gathered at the church to mourn Emmett.
The Mississippi locations are Graball Landing, where Till’s mutilated body is believed to have been pulled from the Tallahatchie River, and Tallahatchie County Second District Court in Sumner, Mississippi, where the killers of Till were tried and acquitted by an all-white jury.
Carolyn Bryant Dorham said she was visiting relatives in Mississippi when she was working at a small community store called Money when Till, 14, whistled at her and made sexual advances.
Till was then kidnapped, and his body was eventually pulled from the Tallahatchie River, where he was shot, weighed down with a cotton gin fan, and thrown.
About a month after Till’s murder, two white men, Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam, were tried for murder, but an all-white Mississippi jury acquitted them. A few months later, they confessed to killing Till in a paid interview for Look magazine. Bryant married Dorham in 1955, but she died earlier this year.
The monument is the fourth Biden has created since taking office in 2021 and is the latest tribute to the young Till.
During Black History Month this year, Biden hosted a screening of his lynching drama Till.
In March 2022, Biden signed the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act. Congress first considered such a bill more than 120 years before him.
The Justice Department announced in December 2021 that it was closing its investigation into Till’s murder.
https://abc7ny.com/president-joe-biden-emmett-till-black-civil-rights/13537205/ President Biden to Create National Monument to Honor Black Teen Emmett Till, Murdered in 1955