In August 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till left his home in Chicago to visit family in the Mississippi Delta, where he was abducted and lynched on August 28. Emmett’s death might have gone unnoticed by the general public if not for the courage of his mother, Mamie Till Mobley, who decided to “let the world see what I have seen” by holding an open-casket visitation and funeral for her son at Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Chicago.
Emmett’s murder shocked the conscience of the nation and illuminated the reality of racial violence in America. The proceeding trial of J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant for Emmett’s murder, held at the Tallahatchie County Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi, also demonstrated the injustice of the time.
We at the National Trust for Historic Preservation believe that the sites connected to Emmett Till and Mamie Till Mobley should be memorialized in perpetuity. Through national monument designation, these places can serve as a pathway for education, racial healing, and progress.
Since 2017, the National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund has invested nearly $500,000 in grant funding for the critical stabilization of Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ, along with the expansion of programming and paid staff at the Emmett Till Interpretive Center in Sumner, Mississippi and the Emmett Till and Mamie Till Mobley House in Chicago.