President Joe Biden announced his plans to establish a national monument honoring the lives of Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley.
The Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument will be established in Chicago, Illinois, and sites in Mississippi, the state where Emmett was murdered at the age of 14.
The Washington Post reports that Biden signed the proclamation establishing the new monument on what would have been Emmett’s 82nd birthday on Tuesday, July 25.
Emmett’s murder and his mother’s decision to have an open casket at his funeral were catalysts for the Civil Rights movement. The new monuments will be located at the Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Chicago, the Tallahatchie County Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi, and a Tallahatchie River bank in Mississippi.
Emmett’s funeral was held at the Roberts Temple Church of God and the Tallahatchie County Courthouse is where his murderers were acquitted by an all-white jury. Emmett’s mutilated body was found in the Tallahatchie River.
“Today would’ve been Emmett Till’s 82nd birthday,” wrote Biden. “Later today, I’ll sign into law a presidential proclamation establishing the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument in Illinois and Mississippi.
Emmett was murdered by Roy Bryant and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, after Emmett reportedly whistled at Bryant’s wife, Carolyn Bryant Donham, inside a grocery store in Money, Mississippi, in 1955. Emmett was in town visiting family from Chicago and was snatched from his bed in the middle of the night by Bryant, Milam and at least three other unindicted white men and thrown into a truck.
His teeth were broken as a result, and Emmett was later beaten, shot in the head, tied to a cotton gin fan with barbed wire and thrown into the Tallahatchie River. His body was found three days later just outside of Glendora, Mississippi.
Co-founder of the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Institute, Marvel Parker, said recognition for the Till family is long past due.
“Emmett and Mamie are finally being recognized for his tragic death and her heroism to allow the world to see his mutilated body in the casket in 1955, which is said to have become the catalyst for the civil rights movement,” she said.
Reactions in some quarters of social media to the news accused Biden and the Democrats of being performative. Many stated that the monument was too little, too late while others brought up reparations.
“Performative,” replied one Instagram user. “It’s easier than #reparations and an Anti-Black Hate Crime Bill.”
“More meaningless gestures designed to invoke an emotional response to ‘endear’ the black vote,” noted another.
“Reparations,” replied another user. “Say it with me REP…”
“Biden’s Department of Justice refused to prosecute Carolyn Bryant, who admitted that she lied on Emmett Till, causing his murder, and lied on the witness stand to protect her husband,” he wrote. “Emmett’s murderer. Now he has the caucacity to dedicate a monument, a symbol, after failing to provide substance, JUSTICE. Hypocrisy. Disrespect. Apathy. RACISM. But they’ll be asking for your votes.”
Emmett’s cousin, 84-year-old Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr., witnessed his abduction and says he still suffers from the trauma. Parker added that he’s pleased Emmett’s murder will be a part of American history, according to The Associated Press.
“I’ve been suffering for all these years of how they’ve portrayed him — I still deal with that,” Parker said. “The truth should carry itself, but it doesn’t have wings. You have to put some wings on it.”