Fourteen-year-old Emmett Till was visiting relatives in Mississippi in the summer of 1955 when the Black child was torn from his bed in the middle of the night. Two white men accused Till of catcalling a white woman and proceeded to beat and shoot him, ultimately disposing of his body in the Tallahatchie River. Nearly 76 years later, his former childhood home in Chicago has been declared a landmark, reflecting the role his murder played in history.
The Chicago City Council announced Thursday that Till’s former Woodlawn neighborhood home is now designated as an official Chicago Landmark. Till’s mother, Mamie Till Mobley, requested her son’s body be returned home to Chicago following the murder.
She insisted on an open-casket funeral, which was attended by more than 50,000 people. Jet magazine chronicled the event with a story that included a photo of Till’s mutilated body. The macabre image shocked the nation and became one of the catalysts for the civil rights movement.
Till’s mother lived in a three-bedroom apartment on the second story of the building until 1962. She worked to combat racism in the years following the death of her only son, a city council news release said. The two men responsible, Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam, were accused but quickly acquitted by an all-male, all-white jury shortly after Till’s body was found, the FBI said. Bryant and Milam later confessed in an article published in Look magazine.
One hundred days after Till’s murder, Rosa Parks was arrested when she refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Ala.