The Senate has passed a bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously to Emmett Till, the Chicago teenager murdered by white supremacists in the 1950s, and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, who insisted on an open casket funeral to demonstrate the brutality of his killing.
Till was abducted, tortured and killed after witnesses said he whistled at a white woman in Mississippi, a scenario contradicted by others who were with Till at the time.
The killing galvanized the civil rights movement after Till’s mother insisted on an open casket and Jet magazine published photos of his brutalized body.
Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J. and Richard Burr, R-N.C., introduced the bill to honor Till and his mother with the highest civilian honor that Congress awards. They described the legislation as a long overdue recognition of what the Till family endured and what they accomplished in their fight against injustice.
“At the age of 14, Emmett Till was abducted and lynched at the hands of white supremacists. His gruesome murder still serves as a solemn reminder of the terror and violence experienced by Black Americans throughout our nation’s history,” said Sen. Booker. “The courage and activism demonstrated by Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, in displaying to the world the brutality endured by her son helped awaken the nation’s conscience, forcing America to reckon with its failure to address racism and the glaring injustices that stem from such hatred. More than six decades after his murder, I am proud to see the Senate pass long-overdue legislation that would award the Congressional Gold Medal to both Emmett and Mamie Till-Mobley in recognition of their profound contributions to our nation.”
The House version of the legislation is sponsored by Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill.