'She decided to have that open casket and the picture was publicized all the world,' Mike Small said.
CHICAGO (WLS) -- A painting depicting the likeness of Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, was revealed as part of Loyola University Chicago's establishment of a scholarship in her name.
"It is such an honor to stand here today and witness a scholarship in honor in my beloved Mamie, one that I'm sure she would approve of," said Ollie Gordon, a relative of Till-Mobley.
Friday's posthumous honor celebrated the mother of Emmett Till, who received a master's degree in education from the school in 1971. Both the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois have proclaimed Oct. 21 Mamie Till-Mobley Day.
"We want to make sure through the scholarship that students can see that through what a single selfless act can do to the world," said Loyola Black Alumni Board President Karen Fleshman.
Mamie's life changed in 1955, when her 14-year old son, Emmett, was abducted and murdered while visiting family in Mississippi after he allegedly whistled at a white girl. Friends like Mike Small said his killing and Mamie's activism were sparks of the modern civil rights movement.
"She decided to have that open casket and the picture was publicized all the world," Small said.
Those who knew Till-Mobley said she didn't just want her son's name to be association with the ugly face of racism, but to stand for hope, reconciliation and forgiveness.
She was a frequent guest on WVON Radio, Chicago's only Black-owned radio station.
"She would come and tell the story," said WVON Radio CEO Melody Spann, who is also a Loyola University graduate. "But the story of Emmett Till is such the fiber of Chicago."
After decades teaching for Chicago Public Schools and advocating for the community, Till-Mobley died in 2003.
Those who learned from her want the scholarship to help teach the next generation what Mamie so generously taught them.
"She taught me a lot, how to be independent, how to grow from there how to get rid of my fears and stand on my own two feet," said Yolanda Moore.