House Passes Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Congressional Gold Medal Act

House Passes Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Congressional Gold Medal Act
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House Passes Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Congressional Gold Medal Act (Washington, DC) — Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) applauded the House passage of the bipartisan Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2021 (S. 450), of which Rep. Rush served as the House sponsor. The Senate previously passed the bill unanimously on January 10, 2022. The bill passed the House by voice vote and was cosponsored by every Member of the House Democratic Caucus. The legislation now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

“The gruesome and unjust murder of Emmett Till serves as one of the most well-known examples of a lynching in American history,” said Rep. Rush.  “Without the courage and determination of his mother, Mamie, in keeping his casket open during his funeral, the world would not know what happened to him or the full horrors of white supremacy. We must honor Emmett’s life and his mother Mamie’s contributions to racial justice.”

After her 14-year-old son was tortured and murdered, Till-Mobley arranged for a photo of his body to be printed in Jet and held an open casket funeral in Chicago’s Roberts Temples Church of God in Christ. Her work to raise awareness of her son’s lynching sparked national outrage and served as a catalyst for the Civil-Right Movement. The March on Washington — where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made his “I have a dream” speech — was held on the eighth anniversary of Till’s death.

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest-level of recognition bestowed by Congress to highlight achievements and contributions of national significance. Fewer than 180 medals have been given in the country’s history.

“Over six decades after his horrific murder and the acquittal of his killers, Emmett Till’s life and legacy continues to reverberate throughout this country,” said Senator Burr. “It is only right that we posthumously award the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, to Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, in recognition of the grave injustices they faced and the indelible impact they left on America’s Civil Rights movement. It has been an honor to work with Senator Booker, Representatives Rush and Bacon, and the late Alvin Sykes on this important effort.”

“The horrendous lynching of Emmett Till and the legacy of his mother Mamie Till-Mobley, should never be forgotten. This legislation allows us to remember the Till family and the over 4,700 victims of lynching who experienced racial terror in this country. This is a meaningful step in the right direction of addressing our past, acknowledging mistakes, and using those lessons to better ourselves and our country,” said Rep. Don Bacon.

“At the age of 14, Emmett Till was lynched at the hands of white supremacists. His brutal murder still serves as a reminder of the horror and violence experienced by Black Americans throughout our nation’s history,” said Senator Booker. “The courage and activism demonstrated by Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, in displaying to the world the cruelty endured by her son helped awaken the nation’s conscience, forcing America to reckon with our failure to address racism and the glaring injustices that stem from such hatred. Her bravery sparked the civil rights movement and was one of the reasons that the Civil Rights Act of 1957 was passed. Now more than six decades after his murder, I am proud to see the House pass long-overdue legislation that would award the Congressional Gold Medal to both Emmett and Mamie Till-Mobley in recognition of their contributions to advancing racial justice in our nation.”

The House version (H.R. 2252) of the bill was introduced by Rep. Rush, was co-lead by Rep. Don Bacon (R- Neb.), and has 190 cosponsors, including every House Democrat. U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) served as the Senate leads.

“I am humbled by the bipartisan support that I have gotten during the 117th Congress to honor the life and legacy of Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley,” said Rep. Rush. “Emmett’s lynching shaped my understanding of racism at an early age and deeply affected Black Americans of my generation and those that followed. Earlier this year, we acknowledged the tragedy of Emmett’s lynching by making lynching a specific federal crime under the Antilynching Act. We are now honoring his mother for her courage and commitment, which deserves national recognition. Today’s victory would not be possible without the Till Family and the Emmett Till Justice Campaign, whose work has led us to this moment.”

Today’s passage follows the successful passage of Rep. Rush’s Emmett Till Antilynching Act (H.R. 55), which was signed into law earlier this year and named after Till. The Emmett Till Antilynching Act designates lynching as a federal hate crime for the first time in U.S history. Despite more than 200 attempts since 1900 to codify federal antilynching legislation, no federal prohibition against lynching had ever passed. The Equal Justice Initiative estimates that more than 6,500 Americans were lynched between 1865 and 1950.

House Passes Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Congressional Gold Medal Act


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