Senate passes bill to honor Emmett Till and his mother

A photo of Emmett Till
Emmett Till was abducted, tortured and killed in Mississippi.
(Associated Press)

The Senate has passed a bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously to Emmett Till, the Chicago teenager killed 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.

Till was abducted, tortured and killed after witnesses said he whistled at a white woman in Mississippi, a scenario contradicted by others who were with Till at the time.

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.


Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Richard M. Burr (R-N.C.) introduced the bill to honor Till and his mother with the highest civilian tribute 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 L. Rush (D-Ill.). He also has sponsored a bill to issue a commemorative postage stamp in honor of Mamie Till-Mobley.