Senate Passes Bill to Honor Emmett Till and His Mother

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

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This undated file photo shows Emmett Till
This undated file photo shows Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black Chicago boy, whose body was found in the Tallahatchie River near the Delta community of Money, Miss., on Aug. 31, 1955. The Senate has passed a bill to award posthumously the Congressional Gold Medal to Emmett Till, the Chicago teenager murdered by white supremacists in the 1950s, and his mother Mamie Till-Mobley. She insisted on an open casket funeral to demonstrate the brutality of his killing. (AP Photo)

By The Associated Press

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. In return, he was rousted from bed and abducted from a great-uncle’s home in the predawn hours four 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.

Deborah Watts of Minneapolis, points out a widely seen 1950s photograph of her cousin Emmett Till and his mother Mamie Till Mobley, during a visit to Jackson, Miss., Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015 in conjunction with events in Mississippi and Illinois commemorating the 60th anniversary of the slaying of Till. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J. and Richard Burr, R-N.C., introduced the bill to honor Till and his mother with the highest civilian honor that Congress awards. 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 Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill. He also has sponsored a bill to issue a commemorative postage stamp in honor of Mamie Till-Mobley.


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