Site of Emmett Till's funeral becomes national monument 68 years after Chicago teen's murder

ByJessica D'Onofrio, Cate Cauguiran, and Jasmine Minor WLS logo
Tuesday, August 1, 2023
Site of Emmett Till's Chicago funeral becomes national monument
What is the Emmett Till monument? Roberts Temple Church Of God In Christ, site of the Emmett Till funeral, is now a national monument.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It's been 68 years since Emmett Till's body was in a Chicago church for his funeral, marking the start of the Civil Rights Movement.

Now, Roberts Temple Church Of God In Christ is officially a national monument to honor his life and remember the power of an open casket.

"I would like to welcome you to Emmett Till and Mamie-Till Mobley National Monument," said NPS Acting Supt. Dee Hewitt.

It was a day many never thought would happen.

"The wheels of justice grind, and they grind very slow," said Reverend Wheeler Parker, Emmett Till's best friend and cousin.

It comes after 200 tries to get an anti-lynching bill passed and 68 years to get recognition.

"For 30 years, they tried to portray him as a person who got what he deserved, and I had to live with that," Parker said.

Emmett Till remembered in Chicago ahead of what would have been 82nd birthday

Tuesday was day that was priceless in the eyes of Parker as Roberts Temple Church Of God In Christ became a national monument.

"I keep hearing her say, 'I hope he didn't die in vain.' He didn't die in vain," Parker said.

Parker was in the room when two white men captured 14-year-old Emmett in the middle of the night. They tortured and then lynched him, and, eventually, were acquitted in the murder by an all-white jury.

"You can kill a revolutionary, but you can't kill a revolution," said Former U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush. "Thank you, thank you, Mama Mamie, for keeping that casket open. Praise God."

Things took a swift change when Emmett's mother, Mamie Till-Mobley decided to have her son's open casket in that very church.

"She said more than anything, 'I wanted Emmett to have died a hero,'" one activist told ABC7.

Last week, President Joe Biden established the national monument, so Emmett will always be remembered as a hero with a story that can never be dismissed.

"Sixty-eight years later, he speaks from the grave," Parker said.