Till, a teenager from Chicago visiting his family in Mississippi, was kidnapped by a group of white men, shot and severely beaten. He was found three days later in a river. Two white men suspected of the crime were acquitted.
At the funeral, Till’s mother said, “Let the world see what they did to my boy,” according to cbsnews.com. More than 50,000 people visited his open casket at his funeral.
Photos published by Jet magazine of the mutilated body helped spark the Civil Rights movement.
Documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson told cbsnews.com that “Till’s murder served as a catalyst for supporters of civil rights.”
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine sponsored the planting of the tree, according to the Associated Press.
Attorney General Eric Holder attended the planting ceremony along with Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, Republican Sen. Thad Cochran and Sen. Roger Wicker from Mississippi.
“We commemorate this legacy by planting a tree in his honor,” Holder said. “A tree that will become his living memorial, here at the heart of our Republic, in the shadow of the United States Capitol.”