Biden establishes monument for Emmett Till amid tensions over Black history

Biden signing proclamation for Emmett Till monumnent
Biden makes a move to preserve Black history with Till monument.
(Image credit: Evan Vucci / AP Photo)

On Tuesday, President Biden established a national monument to honor Emmett Till and his mother, the activist Mamie Till-Mobley. The monument will memorialize the Black teen, who was lynched in 1955, and his mother's work to find justice for him, which "helped ignite the civil rights movement," The Wall Street Journal reported.

The president signed the proclamation to create the monument at three critical spots related to Till in Illinois and Mississippi on the day that would have been his 82nd birthday. Biden's announcement "made the case for reckoning with the legacy of racism in America, even as some Republicans try to restrict how Black history is taught," The New York Times wrote.

"At a time when there are those who seek to ban books, bury history, we are making it clear — crystal, crystal clear. While darkness and denialism can hide much, they erase nothing," Biden said in a speech before signing the proclamation. He also noted that the lynching was "barbaric."

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Till was abducted and tortured at 14 years old after being accused of whistling and making lewd remarks to a white woman while visiting family in Mississippi. His body was found in the Tallahatchie River. Two white men, Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam, were tried for his murder, but an all-white jury acquitted them. "Months later," Politico added, "the men confessed to the crime in a paid interview with Look magazine."

The White House said the monument is meant to honor the work of Till-Mobley, who became a prominent figure in the civil rights movement after her son's death. The monument, dubbed the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument, will be erected in three locations significant to the family. In Illinois, the church where Till's funeral was held in Chicago will host the memorial. The other two sites, located in Mississippi, are the courthouse where his killers were tried and where his body was believed to be found.

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Theara Coleman

Theara Coleman is a Staff Writer for The Week. A New York native, she previously served as a contributing writer and assistant editor for Honeysuckle Magazine, where she covered racial politics and cannabis industry news. Theara graduated from Howard University and New York University, receiving her BA and MA in English Literature, respectively. She has a background in education as a former High School English teacher. She brings her passion for reading, writing, and all things nerdy to her work as a journalist.