President Biden will reportedly establish a national monument this week to honor Emmett Till, the Black teen from Chicago whose 1955 lynching while on vacation in Mississippi helped galvanize the civil rights movement.
A White House official, who spoke on condition on anonymity, reportedly told the Associated Press that 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.
CBS News also reported Saturday it had learned in advance of Biden’s planned announcement Tuesday.
Till’s mother’s insistence on an open casket to reveal how her 14-year-old son had been brutalized and Jet magazine’s decision to publish photos of his mutilated body contributed to the rousing of the civil rights movement.
The Illinois site is Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Bronzeville, a historically Black neighborhood 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 accused killers were tried and acquitted.
Till was visiting relatives in Mississippi when Carolyn Bryant Donham said the 14-year-old Till whistled and made sexual advances at her while she worked in a store in the small community of Money.
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 with a cotton gin fan.
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.
The Justice Department announced in December 2021 that it was closing its investigation into Till’s killing.
In 2022, a grand jury in Mississippi had declined to indict Donham, ruling there was insufficient evidence to bring charges of kidnapping and manslaughter against the woman by then in her 80s.