WASHINGTON — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland today applauded President Biden’s designation of the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument, which protects three historic sites in Illinois and Mississippi that will help tell a more complete story of our country’s history. The new national monument includes places that were central to Emmett Till’s racially motivated murder, the acquittal of his murderers and the subsequent activism by his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, that helped catalyze the Civil Rights Movement. This national monument, established on what would have been Emmett Till’s 82nd birthday, will become the country’s 425th site managed by the National Park Service and reflects the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to advancing civil rights and racial justice.
“Over the past two years, it has been my honor to visit the sites that help tell the story of Emmett and Mamie’s lives with the family and community members who loved them. President Biden’s establishment of this national monument is a testament to the strength and bravery of Mamie Till-Mobley to honor her son and ensure that his death was not in vain,” said Secretary Haaland. “We are honored to be entrusted with the responsibility of preserving their stories as part of our enduring effort to pursue a more perfect union.”
Mamie Till-Mobley’s decision to hold an open-casket funeral for her 14-year-old son, Emmett— who was lynched on August 28, 1955, for allegedly making inappropriate advances toward a white woman while visiting relatives in Mississippi — rocked the nation and helped spur the modern Civil Rights Movement. Efforts by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Black press and others to help Till-Mobley investigate and amplify her son’s story caused the world to bear witness to the racial violence and injustice that many Black people endured in the Jim Crow South. When two men were tried for Till’s murder, they were quickly acquitted by an all-white jury. They later confessed to their crimes in a paid interview. No one was ever held legally accountable for Till’s death.
The Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument includes Graball Landing in Glendora, Miss., the area that is believed to be the site where Till’s brutalized body was recovered from the Tallahatchie River; Roberts Temple Church of God In Christ in Chicago, Ill., the site of Till’s widely attended open casket visitation and funeral; and the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse in Sumner, Miss., where Till’s murderers were tried and acquitted.
In addition to designating these three sites as a new national monument, the President is directing the National Park Service to develop a plan in consultation with local communities, organizations and the public to support the interpretation and preservation of other key sites in Illinois and Mississippi that help tell the story of Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley. This may include the Glendora Cotton Gin (currently known as the Emmett Till Historic Intrepid Center), Mound Bayou, the Tutwiler Funeral Home, and the Emmett Till Boyhood Home.
In February 2022, Secretary Haaland, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory, and Congressman Bennie Thompson visited with local officials and community leaders in Mississippi to learn first-hand about Mississippi’s role in the Civil Rights Movement. In Chicago in October 2022, Secretary Haaland, Senator Dick Durbin, Reps. Bobby Rush and Danny Davis, and local leaders hosted a public meeting at Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ to hear about the community’s effort to honor Mamie Till-Mobley’s legacy. Reverend Wheeler Parker, Jr., Emmett’s cousin and last living eyewitness to the events leading up to the lynching including Emmett’s kidnapping, and his wife, Dr. Marvel Parker, accompanied the Secretary during both visits.
Many partners, including the Emmett Till Interpretive Center, the National Park Foundation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ, Tallahatchie County, and Walker Sturdivant were instrumental in the process of preparing properties for inclusion in the National Park System.
Maps of the new Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument are available on the National Park Service’s website.