President Joe Biden designated the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument on Tuesday on what would have been Emmett Till’s 82nd birthday.
Till was the victim of a racially motivated murder in 1955 at age 14.
The monument designation will include historic sites in Chicago; Sumner, Mississippi; and just outside of Glendora, Mississippi.
In addition to honoring Emmett Till, his mom Mamie Till-Mobley will be honored for her activism that “elevated the broader reality of the injustices and inequality that Black people experienced during the Jim Crow era and helped catalyze the civil rights movement,” the White House said.
Till’s mutilated body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River in Mississippi on Aug. 31, 1955. He was accused of making inappropriate advances toward a White female grocery clerk, which was disputed by friends and family at the scene.
“We are making it clear, crystal crystal clear, darkness and denialism … can hide, but they erase nothing,” President 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 of who we are as a nation.”
Where his body was found, Graball Landing, will be one of the three sites preserved by the new national monument. A sign was installed at the location in 2008, but has been reportedly vandalized multiple times.
Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Chicago will be the second monument site. It is where Mamie Till-Mobley held her son’s open-casket funeral. It was widely reported at the time that she wanted people to see the brutal state her son was left in. Thousands attended Till’s visitation at the church.
The third site is the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi. The courthouse is where an all-White jury acquitted the suspects after an hour of deliberations.
Roy Bryant and John William Milam admitted to killing Till but were never convicted.
“The idea that when that 14-year-old was buried, that in this Indian treaty room, there are this many people of color holding powerful office, changing the direction of the country, would have been beyond our comprehension, and we’re just getting started,” President Biden said at an event in the White House.
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