Emmett Till house: Woodlawn childhood home officially a Chicago landmark

Friday, January 29, 2021
Emmett Till's childhood home is officially a Chicago landmark
Emmett Till's childhood home is now officially a Chicago landmark. Meet the people who made that happen.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The boyhood home of civil rights icon Emmett Till is now a Chicago landmark, and there are plans to turn it into a museum.

Till's 1955 murder in Mississippi, when he was only 14, helped galvanize the Civil Rights Movement. He grew up in the Woodlawn neighborhood with his mother Mamie Till-Mobley.

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Blacks in Green and Preservation Chicago, two nonprofits, worked tireless to get this designation from the city.

"There are people across the world who are invested in the Emmett Till story, who are curious," said Naomi Davis, Blacks in Green founder and CEO.

Till was kidnapped, beaten and lynched after he was accused of whistling at a white woman. In 2017, author Timothy Tyson wrote in his book "The Blood of Emmett Till" about interviewing Till's accuser, Carolyn Bryant, and revealed she had recanted some of her story.

RELATED: Emmett Till's family calls for Justice Department to reopen murder case

Till-Mobley insisted on an open casket funeral for her teenage son, which galvanized activists in the growing Civil Rights Movement.

"This was just a tragic story in every regard, a 14-year-old child going to visit his family in Mississippi," said Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago.

RELATED: Emmett Till's legacy lives on 65 years after Chicago teen killed in Mississippi

Blacks in Green purchased the property in the fall of 2020 for $180,000. Their goal is to transform the two-flat into a museum.

"We will have a fully operating museum that will perform its role on the international stage as a heritage pilgrimage site," Davis said.

They're raising money to help turn that dream into a reality.

"Just imagine a place where community members can not only come and see a story, and come and be a story," Davis said. "They can write their plays, their poems."