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Biden to establish national monument honouring Emmett Till

Mamie Till Mobley and her son, Emmett Till, whose lynching in 1955 became a catalyst for the civil rights movement
Mamie Till Mobley and her son, Emmett Till, whose lynching in 1955 became a catalyst for the civil rights movement - AP

Joe Biden plans to establish a national monument honouring Emmett Till, the black teenager whose 1955 lynching galvanised the civil rights movement.

The US president plans to sign a proclamation on Tuesday to coincide with the anniversary of Till’s birth in 1941.

The new monument will consist of three protected sites across Illinois and Mississippi marking the lives of Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley.

The 14-year-old was abducted, tortured and killed in Mississippi. His corpse was so badly mutilated he could only be identified by a ring on his finger.

His mother Mamie insisted on an open casket funeral. The images shocked the world and served as a catalyst for the civil rights movement.

The national monument – defined as a protected area similar to a national park – will mark places that are central to Till’s story and his mother’s activism, according to White House officials.

Emmett Louis Till, a 14-year-old black Chicago boy, who was murdered while visiting family in Mississippi
Emmett Till was abducted, tortured and killed in Mississippi in 1955 - AP

Mr Biden’s move comes at a time when debate is raging over how the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow laws, which enforced racial segregation in the South, are taught in the nation’s schools.

On Friday, the US vice president Kamala Harris criticised a revised curriculum in Florida that includes teaching that slaves received “personal benefit” from the skills they learned from forced labour.

The Florida Board of Education approved the curriculum to satisfy legislation signed by Ron DeSantis, the state governor and Republican 2024 presidential candidate.

The Till monument will be the fourth Mr Biden has created since taking office, and just his latest tribute to the teenager’s legacy.

White House screening

He hosted a screening of the movie Till, a drama about his lynching, at the White House earlier this year.

Till was visiting relatives in Money, Mississippi, in 1955 when Carolyn Bryant Donham accused him of whistling and making sexual advances at her in a shop in the small town.

The 14-year-old was later kidnapped and shot by Donham’s husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother JW Milam. His body was found weighted down with a cotton gin fan in the Tallahatchie River.

The two men were charged with the murder but acquitted by an all-white jury. They confessed in an interview the following year but were immune from further prosecution.

Ms Donham later allegedly admitted in a book that she lied about Till’s advances. She died earlier this year.

The Till monument will include a site at Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Bronzeville, a historically black neighbourhood in Chicago where thousands gathered to mourn Till in September 1955.

The Mississippi locations are Graball Landing, believed to be where Till’s mutilated body was pulled from the river, and the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi, where Till’s killers were acquitted.

Previous signs in Graball Landing detailing Till’s story have been replaced multiple times after they were stolen or vandalised with bullet holes.

In 2019, a new, bulletproof sign was installed, along with a surveillance system.