Emmett Till's Chicago home in Woodlawn granted preliminary landmark status

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Emmett Till's childhood home in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood has been granted preliminary landmark status.

Till was a Chicago teen who was brutally killed by a white mob at the age of 14, while visiting relatives in Mississippi in 1955. His murder sparked the Civil Rights movement.

The house is a Victorian-era two flat in the 6400-block of South St. Lawrence, and you may only give it a passing glance.

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Eight years to the day before MLK Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, 14-year-old Emmett Till was lynched and thrown from a Mississippi bridge for allegedly whistling at a white woman.

"Even people who live nearby, who live next door know of Emmett Till, but they don't realize that this is the home he lived in," Ward Miller of Preservation Chicago said.

Ward Miller is the executive director of Preservation Chicago, which has been part of an effort to get the house designated a city landmark.

It was home to Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, whom lived on the second floor, and other relatives lived on the first and garden levels.

"This must have meant so much to this child. And I think we keep forgetting that he was a child," Miller said.

Till's mother held an open casket funeral to show the world the horrors her son endured.

"That child, I want to say, basically laid in state, as a symbol of the hatred and brutality that was and unfortunately still is being inflicted on Black people," CEO of DuSable Museum Perri Irmer said.

Mamie Till Mobley lived in the house for several more years. However, neglect has taken a toll on the house, which is now vacant.

Preliminary landmark status will keep the historic home from being demolished.

"I think that makes it be real for families and children. So when we talk Emmitt Till to the younger children, they know and they can see where he was and what that meant," Felicia Dawson from the Preservation of Affordable Housing said.

Now that the Commission on Chicago Landmarks has voted to designate the home a preliminary landmark, final landmark status must be voted on by the full city council.
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