The Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument was designated as a national park site in 2023. The park preserves three sites significant to the story and legacy of Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley: the historic Tallahatchie County Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi, where an all-white jury acquitted two white men of Till’s murder in 1955; Graball Landing, where Emmett Till’s body was recovered from the Tallahatchie River; and the Roberts Temple of Church of God in Christ in Chicago, where Mamie Till-Mobley held Till's open-casket funeral.
Emmett Till was 14 years old when he boarded a train from Chicago to visit his cousins in the Mississippi Delta in August 1955. Three days later – accused of whistling at and making sexual advances toward a white woman – Till was kidnapped from his uncle’s home, tortured, and murdered. His body was found three days later in the Tallahatchie River.
Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, demanded her son’s body be sent home to Chicago. When she saw the beaten body of her son, she proclaimed, “let the world see what I’ve seen” and held an open-casket memorial at the Roberts Temple of Church of God in Christ. So many people showed up to pay their respects that Till-Mobley delayed her son’s burial to accommodate them. Images from the memorial made an international impact and moved many, including John Lewis, Rosa Parks, and many others to become activists in the civil rights movement.
In September 1955 at the Tallahatchie County Courthouse, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam stood trial for the murder of Emmett Till. The all-white jury took only 56 minutes to acquit the two men. Till-Mobley continued to seek justice for her son and other victims of racism, speaking publicly, educating children, and comforting other grieving families until her death in 2003. On the steps of the courthouse in 2007, the Emmett Till Memorial Commission offered a public apology to the Till family on behalf of the people of Tallahatchie County – the first such apology offered to the family from anyone in the state of Mississippi.
The preservation of this crucial chapter of American history was made possible by the collaborative efforts of the National Park Foundation (NPF), the Emmett Till Interpretive Center (ETIC), National Park Service (NPS), the Mellon Foundation, and Fund II Foundation. NPS preserves significant civil rights movement sites such as these, the homes of Medgar and Myrlie Evers and Martin Luther King, Jr., Little Rock Central High School, the route of the Freedom Riders, and more. NPF’s support and continued investment in these park sites continues our long-standing commitment to raising private funds to support the preservation of powerful places in America’s history.
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