The Crusader Newspaper Group

Roberts Temple COGIC now a national monument

Fulfilling a 68-year-old wish the late Mamie Till-Mobley and her family had to never let the world forget the murder of her son, Emmett Till, Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ became a national monument and the site where elected officials on Tuesday, August 1, honored the memory of the pair and the “power of an open casket.”

At a lengthy press conference at the church, located at 4021 S. State St., a string of elected officials paid tribute to Till-Mobley for having the courage to hold an open-casket funeral so that “America can see the ugly face of racism,” as she often told this reporter.

Tuesday the historic church became a national monument. As such, it will ensure the site will remain and that Till’s history and civil rights impact will be told forever.

Elected officials, including Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, congressmen and White House officials, praised Till-Mobley’s strength and tenacity for speaking out about her son’s August 28, 1955, kidnapping and vicious murder, the exoneration of her son’s killers and about racism against Blacks in America.

Till-Mobley’s boldness in holding an open-casket funeral at the Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ, during the period November 3-6, 1955, sparked the Civil Rights Movement.

Emmett Till

The kidnapping and murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till sparked an uprising to a level that former Representative Bobby Rush (D-1st) said helped to elect President Obama, and many civil rights leaders in between.

He attributed the Civil Rights Movement to Till’s funeral and the bravery of his mother in allowing the viewing of his mutilated face. Reverend Wheeler Parker, Till’s cousin who was with him when he was kidnapped, said his cousin “still lives. He speaks from the grave.”

On Till’s 82nd birthday, July 25, President Biden established the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument in Mississippi and in Illinois, ensuring that the vicious hate crime and murder of Till, and his mother’s courageous fight for justice, will forever be enshrined in history.

Elected officials praised Till-Mobley for her commitment to justice for her son’s murder. “We all know this painful story,” said Mayor Johnson, “but it’s important for us to always remember, because it is in that memory we find our strength and our power.”

Representative Jonathan Jackson (D-1st) said he wished Till-Mobley could be present today to see the fruits of her labor. He thanked the Biden administration for making the church a national monument. By doing so, Jackson said, “It makes America better by knowing our history, recognizing the truth so that future generations can learn.” He said Till’s murder sparked a “new wave that fueled the Civil Rights Movement.”

“We gathered here today not to look back but to move forward,” said Representative Danny K. Davis (D-7th). He thanked all those present, including Reverend Parker and his family, “for giving their time, energy and effort to bring us to this day. When Emmett was 14, I was 14. When Emmett was 14, Reverend Jackson was 14. Emmett’s death and actions generated and developed a multitude of young people who at that time decided that the times that had been wouldn’t be anymore.”

It was Till-Mobley’s consistency in speaking out against the murder of her son, as well as racism in America, and the plight of African Americans, that fueled the Movement. Her spirit and fight for justice was infectious and caused others like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Reverend Jesse Jackson, former President Barack Obama and so many others to pick up the mantle and join her in fighting for the civil rights of Blacks in America.

What lit the flame of justice that sparked the Civil Rights Movement was when Till-Mobley demanded an open-casket funeral so that “America can see the ugly face of racism.”

When President Biden signed the proclamation establishing a national monument honoring Till and his mother, he fulfilled a vow the teen’s relatives made following his murder 68 years ago.

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