Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and 37 other Senate colleagues in cosponsoring a bipartisan bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley. In 1955, when he was fourteen years old, Emmett Till was murdered in Mississippi, and his death sparked outrage and calls for justice that fueled the Civil Rights Movement.
“Emmett Till had a promising life ahead of him when he was brutally beaten, tortured, and shot because of the color of his skin. In the wake of his death, his mother Mamie became a teacher and an activist working with school children. She frequently spoke out about her son’s murder in order to raise awareness about the horrors of segregation and the importance of racial justice. I am proud to honor them both, and I hope this recognition inspires us all to continue the unfinished work to ensure the equal rights of all Americans.”
In 1965, Emmett Till was lynched in Mississippi by two white men who were subsequently acquitted by an all-white jury. Emmett’s murder and his mother’s courageous decision to hold a public funeral with an open casket exposed the horror and injustice so many African Americans faced across the United States. Mamie Till-Mobley went on to create the Emmett Till Players, a touring troupe of students who gave public performances of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most striking and hopeful speeches in the name of Emmett Till. The heroic actions of Mamie Till-Mobley in the midst of evil and grief became a catalyst for the civil rights movement. Till family’s legacy is with us today, and their spirits live on in the laws and legislation they have inspired through their courage and sacrifice.
The Congressional Gold Medal represents the Congress’ “highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions” by its recipients. It is time the United States Congress expresses its appreciation to Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley for their distinguished achievements and contributions to the United States and awards each of them the Congressional Gold Medal.