The Senate passed a bill to give the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously to Emmett Till, the 14-year-old who was killed by white supremacists in the 1950s, and to Mamie Till-Mobley, his mother who wanted an open casket funeral to highlight the brutality of his murder, according to the Associated Press.
In August of 1955, Till was tortured, abducted and killed after witnesses said he whistled at a white woman in a Mississippi grocery store, as it was against the South’s racist societal codes during that time. As a result, the 14-year-old was awakened from bed and abducted from a great-uncle’s house in the predawn hours a few days later.
Till’s murder invigorated the civil rights movement after Till-Mobley declared an open casket funeral to expose the world to what the murderers did to her son. Later on, Jet Magazine published pictures of his badly mutilated body, which sparked outrage.
Sens. Cory Booker and Richard Burr were responsible for proposing the bill to recognize Till and his mother with the highest civilian honor that Congress can give, according to the Associated Press. They believe the legislation is an overdue honor for what the Till family went through in their battle against injustice.
“Emmett Till’s gruesome murder by white supremacists was never vindicated by our justice system,” Sen. Booker said in a statement. “While his lynching and the impunity that followed was unique in its horror, it revealed of the persistent legacy of racialized terror and violence waged against Black Americans and reflected the stain of racism and bigotry that this nation continues to struggle with today.”