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Emmett Till and mother Mamie Till-Mobley to get Congressional medals

Till and his mother are being honored nearly 70 years after his brutal murder
Emmett Till and mother Mamie Till-Mobley to get Congressional medals
Photo by Eddy “Precise” Lamarre for Steed Media Service

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to posthumously bestow the highest civilian honor that Congress offers to Emmett Till and his mother, Mami Till-Mobley. 

The House voted unanimously to award Till and Till-Mobley the Congressional Gold Medal, nearly 70 years after the teen was kidnapped, brutally tortured, shot and drowned in the Tallahatchie River in Mississippi in 1955, according to the Associated Press. 

Emmett was a 14-year-old Black boy from Chicago who was visiting relatives for the summer in Mississippi. It was there that the teen happened upon a White woman named Carolyn Bryant who accused Emmett of whistling and making sexual advances toward her. Her husband at the time, Roy Bryant and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, tracked down Emmett and abducted and murdered him.

The murder and Till-Mobley’s decision to give her son an open casket became a cause célèbre and sparked the Civil Rights Movement. The Montgomery Bus Boycott got cranked up just six months later in the neighboring state of Alabama.  

“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,” said Sen. Cory Booker who introduced the bill not long after the public murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020.

Emmett and Till-Mobley will join such historical luminaries as Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, and the Little Rock Nine — the nine Black teenagers who integrated the all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Ark, in 1957 — in receiving such an honor. 

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