Historical marker on view in gallery

Reckoning with Remembrance

History, Injustice, and the Murder of Emmett Till

On View 2 East
April 6–September 15, 2024

During a visit to see his great uncle in Mississippi, 14-year-old Emmett Till, of Chicago, was brutally lynched on Aug. 28,1955. When his mutilated body was recovered from the Tallahatchie River, his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, insisted on an open-casket funeral in Chicago to "let the people see what they did to my boy." In Mississippi, citizens of Tallahatchie County also refused to be silent and formed the Emmett Till Memorial Commission in 2006. Together they erected nine historical markers to remember Till, but the signs have been stolen, riddled with bullets, or thrown in the river. This 5-month long display of the defaced River Site historical marker preserves the memory of Till while demonstrating the contested nature of racism’s violent legacy in America. The 317 bullet punctures further serve as a reminder that the racism that caused Till’s death still exists today and that his murderers were never truly brought to justice. In July 2023, the decades-long activism of Mamie Till-Mobley, members of the Till family, and Tallahatchie County citizens resulted in the establishment of the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument which includes the site along the Tallahatchie River where the defaced marker once stood. 

Reckoning with Remembrance: History, Injustice, and the Murder of Emmett Till was originally on view from September 3 to November 2, 2021, in the museum's Flag Hall.