Bill to Award Top Civilian Honor to Emmett Till Clears Senate

Congressional Gold Medal would recognize victim's mother, as well
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 12, 2022 5:15 PM CST
Senate Supports Top Honor for Emmett Till and His Mother
Emmett Till's body was found near Money, Miss., in August 1955.   (AP Photo, File)

(Newser) – The Senate has passed a bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously to Emmett Till, the Chicago teenager murdered by white supremacists in the 1950s, and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, who insisted on an open casket funeral to demonstrate the brutality of his killing. Till was abducted, tortured, and killed after witnesses said he whistled at a white woman at a grocery store in rural Mississippi, a violation of the South’s racist societal codes at the time. Four days after the 14-year-old allegedly whistled at the woman, he was rousted from bed and abducted from a great-uncle's home in the predawn hours. His mutilated body was found in the Tallahatchie River days later.

The killing galvanized the civil rights movement after Till's mother insisted on an open casket and Jet magazine published photos of his brutalized body. Democratic Sen. Cory Booker and Republican Sen. Richard Burr introduced the bill to honor Till and his mother with the highest civilian honor that Congress awards, the AP reports. They described the legislation as a long overdue recognition of what the Till family endured and what they accomplished in their fight against injustice. The House version of the legislation is sponsored by Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush. He also has sponsored a bill to issue a commemorative postage stamp in honor of Mamie Till-Mobley.

(Read more Emmett Till stories.)

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