Biden will erect a national monument in honor of Emmett Till, the black teenager lynched in Mississippi

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will erect a national monument in her honor Emmett Tillthe black Chicago teenager who was kidnapped, tortured and killed in 1955 after he was accused of refereeing a white woman in Mississippi, and his mother, a White House official said Saturday.

According to the official, on Tuesday, Biden will sign a proclamation establishing Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument at three locations in Illinois and Mississippi. The person spoke on condition of anonymity as the White House had not officially announced the president’s plans.

Tuesday marks the anniversary of Emmett Till’s birthday in 1941.

The memorial will protect sites central to the story of Till’s life and death at age 14, the release of his white killers, and his mother’s activism. Till’s mother’s insistence on an open coffin to show the world how her son was abused and Jets magazine’s decision to publish photos of his mutilated body helped jumpstart the civil rights movement.

Biden’s decision also comes at a difficult time on race issues in the United States. Conservative leaders oppose teaching slavery and black history in public schools and the incorporation of diversity, equality and inclusion programs from college classrooms to corporate boardrooms.

On Friday, Vice President Kamala Harris criticized a revised black history curriculum in Florida that teaches enslaved people benefited from the skills they learned from those who denied them their freedom. The Florida Board of Education approved the curriculum to comply with legislation signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican presidential candidate who has accused public schools of liberal indoctrination.

“How is it that in the midst of this atrocity, anyone could claim that there was any benefit in being subjected to this level of dehumanization?” Harris asked in a speech from Jacksonville, Florida.

DeSantis said he played no role in crafting his state’s new educational standards, but defended the components that represented benefits to enslaved people.

“All of this is rooted in fact,” he said in response.

The memorial to Till and his mother will span three locations in the two states.

The Illinois location is the Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Bronzeville, a historically black neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. In September 1955, thousands of people gathered at the church to mourn the loss of Emmett Till.

The Mississippi locations are Graball Landing, where Till’s mutilated body is believed to have been recovered from the Tallahatchie River, and the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi, where Till’s killers were tried and acquitted by an all-white jury.

Family photos show Emmett Till. In the summer of 1955, Till was murdered while visiting relatives in Mississippi. (Ovie Carter/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Family photos show Emmett Till. In the summer of 1955, Till was murdered while visiting relatives in Mississippi. (Ovie Carter/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Chicago Tribune via Getty Images

When Till was visiting relatives in Mississippi Carolyn Bryant Donham said 14-year-old Till whistled and made sexual advances at her while she worked at a shop in the small community of Money.

Till was later kidnapped and his body eventually recovered from the Tallahatchie River, where he had been thrown after being shot and weighted down with a cotton ginning fan.

Two white men, Roy Bryant and his half-brother, JW Milam, were charged with murder about a month after Till’s killing, but an all-white Mississippi jury acquitted them. Months later, in a paid interview with Look magazine, they confessed to killing Till. Bryant was married to Donham in 1955. She died earlier this year.

The memorial will be the fourth Biden has created since taking office in 2021 and only his most recent tribute to the younger Till.

For Black History Month this year, Biden hosted one Screening of the film “Till”, a drama about his lynching.

Biden signed in March 2022 the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act into the law. Congress first considered such legislation more than 120 years ago.

The Justice Department announced in December 2021 that it would drop its investigation into Till’s murder.

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