President Joe Biden signed a proclamation that designated national monuments in honor of Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley. Till and Mobley were influential in the civil rights movement.

In August 1955, two white men tortured and killed 14-year-old Till, a black child, after he whistled at a white shopkeeper’s wife in a Mississippi grocery store. The men, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam were acquitted but later confessed to the crime.

Fifty years later, the shopkeeper’s wife, Carolyn Bryant Donham, also admitted to lying about Till touching her.

Till’s funeral was held at Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Chicago. More than 1,700 people filled the church, and 10,000 more stood outside and listened to the service.

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Mobley insisted on an open-casket funeral so that visitors could see her son’s mangled body, a decision that was unprecedented and allowed the world a first-hand look at the realities of racism. The church will be the site of one monument.

In Mississippi, the Graball Landing will become a monument; experts believe that this is the spot where Till’s body washed up from the Tallahatchie River. The third monument will be at the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse in the state, where Till’s killers were acquitted by an all-white jury.

Till’s story had a profound impact on the civil rights movement that took place in the 1960s and has influenced the way that issues of race and racism are taught in schools today.

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