Opening Sept. 17, 2022
Recommended for ages 10 and up
The Children’s Museum in collaboration with The Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley Institute, the Emmett Till Interpretive Center, and the Till family is creating a national touring exhibit to share the story of Emmett Till, a Black 14-year-old from Chicago who was brutally murdered while visiting his uncle’s home in Mississippi in 1955. The exhibit will focus on five key stories:
- Emmett’s personal story
- How Emmett’s murder fueled the Civil Rights Movement
- How a community and family have worked to keep Emmett’s memory alive
- How the vandalized historical marker connects to us today
- How together as a community we can commit to racial reconciliation
After its debut at The Children’s Museum, the exhibit will travel across the country, including to Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, DC, Two Mississippi Museums in Mississippi, DuSable Museum of African American History in Illinois, and the Atlanta History Center in Georgia.
Emmett Till’s Story
Emmett Till, a Black 14-year-old from Chicago, was visiting family in Mississippi when he was kidnapped from his great-uncle’s home and savagely beaten and murdered by a group of white men on August 28, 1955. His body was found three days later in the Tallahatchie River. His torture and murder were retaliation for whistling at a white woman in a grocery store. Two white men accused of brutally murdering Emmett were acquitted by an all-white jury in 67 minutes. For Emmett’s funeral, his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, insisted that the coffin containing his body be left open. Over 100,000 people viewed his body over three days serving as a catalyst to the Civil Rights Movement.
The Vandalized Sign
A key artifact included in the exhibit is a roadside plaque commemorating the site where Emmett’s body may have been recovered from the Tallahatchie River. The sign featured in the exhibit made headlines after a group of students from the University of Mississippi posed in front of it with rifles and then posted their photo on Instagram in March of 2019. The signs at this particular spot have been repeatedly vandalized and have been replaced three times. The fourth sign installed to honor Emmett’s life is a bulletproof sign equipped with security cameras and alarms.
This project was made possible by:
- The National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom
- Maddox Foundation in Hernando, MS
- The Institute for Museum and Library Services [MH-249226-OMS-21]
- The Historic Preservation Fund and the National Park Service