*Emmett Till was a Chicago teenager (14-years-old, to be sure) whose life was cut short in 1955 by White supremacists who abducted him from his great-uncle’s home and tortured him to death. Four days earlier, Till had allegedly whistled at a white woman at a white grocery store in Mississippi, which was why he was murdered.
The Senate has now passed a bill to posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal to Till and his mother Mamie Till-Mobley. It’s what his mother did at the funeral that especially brought her to the limelight: she insisted on an open casket to vividly demonstrate the level of brutality her son endured while dying.
“I want the world to see what they did to my baby,” she said.
Jet Magazine went ahead to publish photos of Till’s severed, unrecognizable face. These photos triggered an outrage of Black Americans and fired up the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest award a civilian can get from Congress. Senators Richard Burr (Republican) and Cory Booker (Democrat) introduced the bill in September 2020 to honor Till and his mother. The two stated that the award is long overdue considering what the mother and son had experienced.
“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 said in a statement.
He added that the courage and activism that Till’s mother showed in insisting on an open-casket funeral to reveal to the world the brutality that her son endured at death. This act helped awaken the nation’s conscience, pushing America to relook its failure to deal with racism issues and the related injustices accompanying 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.” he went on.