This week President Biden signed a proclamation establishing the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument in Mississippi and Illinois. The new national monument will help tell the story of the events surrounding Emmett Till’s murder, their significance in the civil rights movement and American history, and the broader story of Black oppression, survival, and bravery in America. The new monument will be managed by the National Park Service.

This designation builds on the President and Vice President’s commitment to advancing civil rights and telling a more complete American story.

Leaders from across the country praised the new national monument. Here’s what they’re saying:

Civil Rights and Community Leaders

Reverend Wheeler Parker, Jr., cousin of Emmett Till and last living witness of his abduction: “It’s been my life’s work to tell the truth of what happened to Emmett. This national monument designation makes certain that Emmett Till’s life and legacy, along with his mother Mamie Till Mobley’s social action and impact, will live on and be used to inspire others to create a more just and equitable society. We thank President Biden for codifying the national monument and are heartened to know these places will foster empathy, understanding and healing for years to come.” [Statement, 7/25/2023]

Dr. Marvel Parker, Executive Director, The Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley Institute, Summit, IL: “As Director of the Preserve Roberts Temple Initiative, I want to thank President Biden, Elder Cleven Wardlow, Bishop Edwin Walker, the Roberts Family and our partners. This Designation is the culmination of our extensive collaborative work to make this historical landmark a part of The Emmett Till and Mamie Till Mobley Legacy.” [Statement, 7/25/2023]

Christopher Benson, President, Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley Institute: “This is an amazing, teachable moment to talk about the importance of this story as an American story that everybody can share in now, particularly at a time when people are trying to rewrite history. We have a memorial now that is not erasable. It can’t be banned and it can’t be censored, and we think that’s a very important thing.” [Statement, 7/25/2023]

Patrick Weems, Executive Director, Emmett Till Interpretive Center, Sumner, MS: “After 15 years of hard work, we have finally achieved a designation that we believe is pivotal to our nation’s story. The lynching of Emmett Till and the courage of Mamie Till Mobley served as a springboard to the modern Civil Rights Movement, and preserving this history in perpetuity will serve as a continual act of restorative justice. We extend our deepest gratitude to the Tallahatchie County Board of Supervisors, and Congressman Bennie Thompson for championing this vision of reconciliation, which has now become a national monument.” [Statement, 7/25/2023]

Elizabeth Alexander, President, Mellon Foundation: “As younger generations of Americans learn them for the first time, Emmett Till’s and Mamie Till Mobley’s stories remain central to our effort to make a more racially just United States. We at Mellon are steadfast in our support of this national monument and the opportunities it provides for reparative learning, public engagement, and the crucial collective work we must undertake to end race-based hatred and violence in our country.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Brent Leggs, Executive Director, African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund and Senior Vice President, National Trust for Historic Preservation: “Imbued in these now permanently protected buildings and landscapes are the unspeakable crimes of racial violence, and the tireless strength of Mamie Till Mobley who harnessed her grief in pursuit of social justice. Through historic preservation, this multiracial coalition will continue its work to uplift this new national monument and secure the resources and investment needed to ensure the site’s future.” [Statement, 7/25/2023]

Maya Wiley, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: “In 1955, Mamie Till-Mobley, at the funeral of her 14-year-old son Emmett Till, bravely demanded that the world look at what brutal, adult murderers had done to her child. It was a cry for justice and a demand that this nation face its demons. Today, while we are in a battle for the freedom to learn and teach this very history, and at a time when Black people remain the highest number of hate crime victims, the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument will represent a strong statement of commitment to remembering the past and a call to reckon with the present. It is fitting that this monument calls us to the enduring presence of Emmett Louis Till in our collective memories. It is important that it acknowledges the lifelong fight for justice that Mamie Till-Mobley led — not only for her son, but also for all of us. Mamie Till-Mobley was fighting to shine a light on the dark shadows of violent racism. Today, on what would have been Emmett Till’s 82nd birthday, we are reminded of the ever present threat of violence against Black people and of the devastation and intergenerational trauma it creates.”[Statement, 7/25/23]

Vangela M. Wade, President, Mississippi Center For Justice: “Addressing the deep-rooted issues of inequity in Mississippi and beyond can only be achieved by confronting the darkest moments of our past. The tragedy of Emmett Till and the bravery of Mamie Till-Mobley are integral parts of our history as Americans – and today’s announcement only further cements this fact. This new national monument will be a ray of hope and a symbol of progress in the face of a national movement to whitewash history. Justice is a constant struggle, and this significant step marks a critical milestone.” [Statement, 7/25/2023]

Dr. Bernice A. King, CEO, Martin Luther King, Jr. Center For Nonviolent Social Change: “The monument will protect places that are central to the story of #EmmettTill’s life, his brutal death from white supremacists torturing and murdering him at age 14, and his mother, #MamieTillMobley’s activism, which helped spark the civil rights movement.” [Tweet, 7/25/23]

Historic Preservation and Parks Leaders

Jay Clemens, CEO, National Trust for Historic Preservation: “The National Trust for Historic Preservation congratulates the many preservationists, advocates, volunteers, and community members who have worked to achieve this historic designation of three sites associated with the tragic death of Emmett Till and the sparking of the civil rights movement by Mamie Till Mobley. The achievement of this protection and recognition symbolized in the Emmett Till and Mamie Till Mobley National Monument proves the power of historic preservation, accomplished with passion, patience, and partnership.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Theresa Pierno, President and CEO, National Parks Conservation Association: “Throughout American history, there are few stories as heart wrenching as the murder of Emmett Till. It is a story that lays bare the brutality of systemic racism and injustice for the world to see. But it is also a story of determination. This is a story of a brave young mother who experienced a parent’s worst nightmare, but found the strength and power to rise up and shine a light on injustice as a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. Mamie Till-Mobley galvanized a movement and inspired a nation…We commend the Biden administration on today’s national park designation and are grateful to Emmett Till’s family members for their tireless work to make this national park site a reality. As America’s greatest storyteller, the Park Service will help protect and interpret the history at the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument, so no one ever forgets their names.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Will Shafroth, President and CEO, National Park Foundation: “The new park site holds the power to inspire a deeper and more complete understanding of America’s ever-evolving story. Thanks to the partnership and support of the Mellon Foundation and Fund II Foundation, the new Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument will make a seminal event in our nation’s civil rights era history accessible to all.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Gene Karpinski, President, League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and Jen Walling, Executive Director, Illinois Environmental Council (IEC): “The brutal murder of Emmett Till in 1955, and the courage and strength of Mamie Till-Mobley to share her loss with the world, helped expose the racism in America and inspire movements for justice. Their legacy, and President Biden’s preservation of the sites that tell their stories, stand in stark contrast with the current politicians who attempt to erase the country’s history of racism instead of learning from it. We appreciate the Biden-Harris administration’s work to preserve sites and landscapes with ecological, cultural, and historic resources, including places of devastating tragedies like this monument. The continued murder and loss of life, disproportionately young Black men, at the hands of institutions in our society further demonstrates the importance of these lessons as well as the work still in front of us. Today, we are celebrating President Biden’s move to preserve historically significant sites tied to the memory of Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, whose strength during a moment of profound darkness shed light on the horrific dangers of white supremacy in our country.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Mike Murray, Chair, Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks: “We thank President Biden for using his authority under the Antiquities Act to designate this new national monument honoring the life and legacy of Emmett Till and his mother, civil rights icon Mamie Till-Mobley. This national monument designation will protect the spaces that help tell the story of a difficult and critical piece of America’s civil rights history. We are thankful the story of Emmett Till and his mother will be conserved and remembered. We thank President Biden and his administration for designating another new national monument, and we encourage the administration to continue to strengthen their conservation legacy – and push hard towards the goals laid out in the 30 x 30 initiative – by using the Antiquities Act to establish protections for other culturally and naturally significant spaces.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Janessa Goldbeck, CEO, Vet Voice Foundation: “We applaud President Biden’s decision to designate the Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument today. In an era in which we see elected officials banning books and attempting to alter history, it’s beyond refreshing to have a president who understands the importance of preserving our history — the good and bad — for future generations to learn from. Moreover, today’s announcement serves as another reminder of this administration’s commitment to safeguarding important places and making them open and available to all.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Manish Bapna, President and CEO, Natural Resources Defense Council: “These monuments speak in the voice of conscience to the cries for justice that grew from a heinous act committed in the name of white supremacy. They recall the nation’s hypocrisy and legacy of racial violence and the work yet to be done to live out its ideals. We move forward when we look at the past with clear eyes, examine the roots of our flaws, and memorialize those with the courage to stand up and demand that we do better.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Monumental SHIFT: “We thank the Biden-Harris Administration for designating the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument as a step forward to not only acknowledge the importance of telling the full history of America, but also to prioritize the cultures and stories by which this country was built. This national monument spans across three sites in Illinois and Mississippi and protects the places that are central to the story of Till’s life, death, and the acquittal of his white killers, and honors his mother’s relentless activism for justice. We created Monumental SHIFT to shift the traditional designation and maintenance of national monuments to center ethnically and racially diverse communities in the creation, conception, funding, and stewardship to honor the lands and places that are sacred to the members of our community. The Monumental SHIFT coalition applauds the leadership of the community, the Biden-Harris Administration and affirms the tenacity of Till’s mother for this monumental and momentous designation.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Dr. Jocelyn Imani, Director, Trust for Public Land’s Black History and Culture: “Trust for Public Land commends President Biden for designating the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument. This national monument preserves a painful but powerful chapter in our history in which – in the wake of a horrific racist murder of an innocent child, where the fundamental values of human life and justice were violated – Mamie Till-Mobley transformed her deep pain into action that would galvanize the civil rights movement.  The Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument will be a place where the stories of Emmett Till and his courageous mother, Mamie Till-Mobley are preserved as part of our National Park System to inform our understanding of our shared history and compel us to work together for continued atonement, restoration, and progress.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Faith Leaders

Cassandra Carmichael, Executive Director, National Religious Partnership for the Environment: “On behalf of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, an alliance of 5 major national Christian and Jewish faith institutions united in our commitment to protecting God’s creation and doing so through the lens of justice, I applaud the designation of the Emmett Till and Mamie-Till National Monument. On this day of his birth, it is particularly poignant that we honor his life and mark his tragic, untimely death. In addition to documenting Emmett Till’s abduction, torture and killing, the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument proclaims the resiliency of Mamie Till-Mobley, who bravely proclaimed the horrific events of her son’s death and insisted that the nation and the world bear witness. Her persistence challenges us to address racial injustice.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Bishop Lawrence Reddick III, Senior Bishop, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Dallas, TX: “The telling of the story of Emmett Till’s tragic death is imperative for the whole country to recognize the harm and hate done to the Black community throughout US history, which is why I praise the designation of the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument. The story of Emmett Till’s pain and his mother’s endurance to preserve his story is important to protect. By preserving this critical story that highlights our country’s unjust and horrific lynching history by conserving the land which holds the story, we ensure that the narrative will remain.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Dr. Jerry Young, President, National Baptist Convention USA: “Too often African American history is relegated to, at best side notes or footnotes. Or is deleted altogether in the hopes that it will be forgotten. Designating a national monument that highlights the tragedy and trauma that Emmett Till, his family and community endured is an important part of preserving history, reckoning with our past as a nation, and moving forward in healing.”[Statement, 7/25/23]

Bishop J. Drew Sheard, Presiding Bishop/Chief Apostle, Church of God in Christ, Memphis, TN: “I commend the Biden/Harris Administration for its work in designating the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument. The value and necessity of preserving places that shine a light on Black history cannot be overstated. The United States of America has many historic sites that have seen racial atrocities. The three sites of the Till-Mobley National Monument contain an important traumatic narrative, which this country would be wise to learn from.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Bishop Adam J. Richardson, Jr., Senior Bishop, African Methodist Episcopal Church, Dallas, TX: “I am grateful for President Biden’s leadership, knowing that by proclaiming this part of history as worthy of national attention and focus it will offer much hope and healing. Our responsibility to care for Creation is coupled with our duty to preserve and honor the story of us all, and ensure all of our children have equitable access to healthy recreation and the opportunity to find their own story in our park system.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Bishop Kenneth Monroe, Senior Bishop, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Raleigh, NC: “I celebrate President Biden’s leadership in designating the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument through the use of the Antiquities Act. Our National Monuments help tell the story of our historical, cultural and national heritage. I can think of no better way to honor our nation’s history than by lifting up stories of Black tragedy and resilience.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Dr. Sam Tolbert, President, National Baptist Convention of American International, Inc: “It is critical that we preserve the stories of all Americans. Preservation of stories through National Monument designation is a critical mechanism to preserve Black history. The Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument tells an important part of Black history and paves the way for additional National Monuments that tell the full story of Black history.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Dr. David Peoples, President, Progressive National Baptist Convention: “Our shared history, culture, and natural treasures should be protected through conservation protections such as National Monuments. In the face of adversity, Emmett Till’s mother demonstrated Black resiliency and agency in her efforts to ensure that Emmett Till’s plight and tragedy was not forgotten. Her efforts helped compel the Civil Rights Movement and rightfully her son’s life should not only be honored, but never forgotten.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Dr. W. Franklin Richardson, Conference of National Black Churches: “The designation of the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley as a National Monument is a step towards justice. Such a National Monument will enumerate Emmett Till’s kidnapping, torture and death as well as document the injustice of acquitting his killers. The site will also, rightfully, emphasize Mamie Till-Mobley’s relentless journey to ensure that Emmett Till’s life, with the designation of this National Monument, can be honored.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Bishop James Walker, 7th Episcopal District – Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Washington, D.C.: “Its designation is a long overdue overture to aid in the telling the traumatic story of lynching against Black Americans in the United States. The National Monument will help document the impact lynching had on Black communities across America. As we celebrate Emmett Till’s birthday and reflect on the lessons contained in this newly designated National Monument, I hope that we will remember that the path to healing and hope is paved with justice.”[Statement, 7/25/23]

Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, 6th District, African Methodist Episcopal Church, Atlanta, GA: “I commend the Biden-Harris Administration and President Biden’s leadership in declaring the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley our newest National Monument. This monument, which tells the honest history and impacts of lynching, is long overdue. The Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument holds the underheard story of Black tragedy and Black resilience. It showcases a horrific and tragic child lynching and highlights the fortitude and resilience of a mother’s devotion.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Bishop Jerry W. Macklin, Pastor, Glad Tiding Church of God in Christ, Hayward, CA: “I am grateful for President Biden’s leadership in designating a National Monument at the sites that give the account of Emmett Till’s tragic death. This important part of America’s history provides a testament that recognizes that attending to racial inequity and injustice is paramount.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Bishop Silvester Scott Beaman, 15th District, African Methodist Episcopal Church, Cape Town, South Africa: “The designation of the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument preserves a piece of history that is critical for us all to acknowledge. Its designation gives us hope that we can work more fully towards racial reconciliation. Emmett Till’s life and tragic death was not in vain. For in his mother’s steadfast advocacy to have his abduction, torture and killing told, his life helped propel the Civil Rights Movement.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, 5th Episcopal District, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Birmingham, AL: “This new National Monument is a testament to your leadership that has sought to reconcile and make us “whole” as a nation. Emmett Till’s life, tragically cut short by racial hatred, is rightfully honored by the designation of this new National Monument. It highlights not only his story, but the courageous story of his mother, who despite her grief fought to have Emmett Till’s full story told to the world. By putting focused attention on stories of Black history—the pain and the triumph—through this designation and additional future National Monument designations my hope is that we, as a nation, can reconcile and come together as one nation under God.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Bishop Franklin White, 4th District, African Methodist Episcopal Church, Chicago, IL: “As Black communities across the nation face significant opposition to honoring Black history, I thank President Biden for challenging the organized effort to erase Black history by designating the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument. I join with faith leaders here in Chicago and across the nation in celebrating this designation.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Bishop Michael A. Frencher, Sr., Mid-West District, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Chicago, IL: “I applaud President Biden’s leadership in the use of the Antiquities Act to create the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument, which lifts up the story of the unjust killing of Emmett Till and the courage of his mother to reveal the brutal details. The nation needed to hear his story then and, as we continue to grapple with the horrors of racism, the world needs to continue to hear his story.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Rev. Dr. Roosevelt C. Walker, Jr., President, United Baptist State Convention of Illinois: “I am heartened to hear that the story of Till Mobley, in all of its horrors and tragedy, will be told through the naming of a National Monument in his honor. This designation counters the many voices and efforts that are attempting to erase painful parts of American history. The discomfiture and denial to tell stories of Black pain and trauma only serves to bury the wound, never allowing us to reconcile. The Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument is a long overdue recognition of how devasting lynching is to Black communities. This National Monument can serve as a heralder of truth in the hopes that we never again revisit the sins of racially motivated violence.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Rev. Dr. Mark A. McConnell, President, Baptist General State Convention of Illinois: “Our shared history, culture, and natural treasures should be protected through conservation protections such as National Monuments. In the face of adversity, Emmett Till’s mother demonstrated Black resiliency and agency in her efforts to ensure that Emmett Till’s plight and tragedy was not forgotten. Her efforts helped compel the Civil Rights Movement and rightfully her son’s life should not only be honored, but never forgotten.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Elected Officials

Illinois Senator and Majority Whip Dick Durbin: “Emmett Till’s murder is emblematic of one of the darkest chapters in our nation’s history. I’m glad @POTUS is moving to establish Roberts Temple Church in Chicago as a national monument to preserve Emmett’s story & ensure the cruel legacy of racism in the U.S. is not forgotten.” [Tweet, 7/24/23]

Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth: “The Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ is of both extraordinary and incredibly heartbreaking historical importance to Chicago, our state and to this country. At a time when some on the far right are trying to whitewash our nation’s history and erase the devastating legacies of slavery and lynchings on Black Americans, I’m proud that President Biden is taking action to help ensure that generations of Americans have more opportunity to reflect on Mamie and Emmett’s stories. It’s past time we recognize how national monuments can not only teach us about our history—but provoke us to build a more just future.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Illinois Representative Jonathan Jackson: “Today, we remember #EmmettTill on what would have been his birthday. A life extinguished far too soon, but a legacy that forever changed the course of history. The brutal nature of Till’s murder and the brave decision by his mother for an open-casket funeral exposed the harsh racial violence of the South to the world. His story became a rallying cry for the Civil Rights Movement, compelling many, including leaders like Rosa Parks, into action.” [Tweet, 7/25/23]

Mississippi Representative Bennie Thompson: “The tragedy that took place when Emmett Till was murdered is an enduring reminder of the racism that fueled injustice for far too long in our country. I would like to thank President Biden for honoring the memory of young Till and reminding us all of our common humanity. We have worked hard to ensure the proper recognition of this atrocity.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker: “Emmett Till’s murder and the courage of Mamie Till-Mobley roused people of goodwill to action, leading to one of the most significant movements in American history.  This commemoration will help preserve the Till family’s legacy for future generations.” [Tweet, 7/25/23]

Mississippi Senator Cindy-Hyde Smith: “An Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument honors the family’s contributions to Civil Rights & complements efforts undertaken in MS to highlight civil rights achievements. The atrocities done to Emmitt Till & the heartbreak inflicted on his family mustn’t be forgotten.” [Tweet, 7/25/2023]

House Democratic Leader and New York Representative Hakeem Jefferies: “Today’s proclamation establishes the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument, which honors the story of Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley in three sites across Illinois and Mississippi that mark the journey Mamie took as a young girl with her family to flee the danger and oppression of the Jim Crow South. Though she would escape, that same hate and violence claimed the life of her son. Emmett’s brutal murder and Mamie’s courage to show the world the cruel violence inflicted on her son helped galvanize the Civil Rights Movement in America. The creation of this national monument places the life and legacy of Emmett Till among our nation’s most treasured memorials. Last year, the Biden-Harris administration signed the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act into law, making lynching a federal crime for the first time in American history. In the face of efforts to erase and rewrite Black history, including in Florida, it is essential to make sure that stories like Emmett Till’s are told and not forgotten. Black history is American history. I am thankful to President Biden for his inclusive and decisive leadership.” [Statement, 7/25/23]

South Carolina Representative James E. Clyburn: “Honored to join @POTUS as he signed a proclamation to establish the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument. Just as Mamie Till-Mobley refused to let the world shy away from the truth of what happened to her son, we must fight efforts to erase this country’s history.” [Tweet, 7/25/23]

Arizona Representative Raúl Grijalva, Ranking Member, House Natural Resources Committee: “The brutal murder of Emmett Till and the acquittal of his murderers was an injustice of the most unthinkable kind. But even worse, it was no anomaly. The long and ongoing history of oppression and violence against Black people is an inescapable part of the American story, but it is also one we must recognize and understand if we want to repair. While efforts to censor our nation’s truth seem to be increasing by the day, I’m grateful that this administration not only acknowledges that truth but is following the lead of Emmett Till’s mother and countless champions to ensure it is memorialized and learned from for good.” [Statement, 7/25/2023]

Indiana Representative André Carson: “Thank you, @POTUS, for honoring Emmett Till on what would be his 82nd birthday. Learning & commemorating our history is not always easy, but it’s vital for our country’s future. This national monument will honor Emmett Till’s memory, his legacy, and the work we have left to do.” [Tweet, 7/25/23]

Georgia Representative Hank Johnson: “I am honored to have been present for this historic moment. Thank you @POTUS, for honoring the legacy of Emmett and Mamie Till-Mobley.” [Tweet, 7/25/23]

New York Representative Ritchie Torres: “At 14 years old, Emmett Till was abducted and brutally murdered because of the color of his skin. His mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, bravely forced America to confront the horrors of racism. Thank you @POTUS for honoring their legacy on his 82nd birthday.” [Tweet, 7/25/23]

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