The 2022 movie “Till” did a lot to bring attention to the racist murder of Emmett Till and the fight for justice his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, underwent after the 14-year-old boy from Chicago was lynched while visiting his cousins in Mississippi.
The 67-year-old incident, particularly his mother’s insistence on an open casket to show everyone how her son had been brutalized, is credited as a catalyst for the modern Civil Rights Movement.
While the movie may have gotten the most attention, there were several related items that deserved but didn’t get as much attention in 2022.
Emmett Till Statue Unveiled
A larger-than-life, 9-foot-tall bronze statue of Emmett Till was unveiled in Greenwood County, Mississippi’s Rail Spike Park on October 21. The unveiling was timed to coincide with the debut of the movie “Till”
The statue is about 10 miles from the crumbling remains of the store, Bryant’s Grocery & Meat Market, in Money, MS, where Till was accused of whistling at shopkeeper Carolyn Bryant, a White woman. It’s just a short drive from an elaborate Confederate monument outside the Leflore County Courthouse.
Greenwood and Leflore County are both more than 70% Black and officials have worked for years to bring the Till statue to reality. Democratic State Sen. David Jordan of Greenwood secured $150,000 in state funding and a Utah artist, Matt Glenn, was commissioned to create the statue.
Jordan said he hopes it will draw tourists to learn more about the area’s history. “Hopefully, it will bring all of us together,” he said.
Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act Becomes law
An anti-lynching law was first considered by congress more than 120 years and until March 2022, such legislation had failed to pass nearly 200 times. The first anti-lynching bill was introduced in 1900 by North Carolina Rep. George Henry White, the only Black member of Congress at the time.
In March 2022. In a special Rose Garden Ceremony, Pres. Joe Biden finally signed an anti-lynching bill into law. The House approved the bill 422-3 on March 7, with eight members not voting, after it cleared the Senate by unanimous consent. The last time an anti-lynching bill was voted on by Congress was in January 2019. The House passed the bill by a vote of 410-4 but stalled in the Senate.
The new law makes it possible to prosecute a crime as a lynching when a conspiracy to commit a hate crime leads to death or serious bodily injury, according to the bill’s champion, Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill. The law lays out a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and fines.
Tills Receive Congressional Gold Medal
Congress voted positively in December on a bill to posthumously award Till and his mother Mamie the Congressional Gold Medal. The legislation received far less pushback than the Lynching Bill. It unanimously passed the Senate and passed by a voice vote in the House on Wednesday.
The medal will be on display at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, near his casket.
Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Authorization Act Receives funding
The Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Authorization Act was originally authorized in 2008 thanks in large part to Kansas Citian Alvin Sykes who was appointed by Mamie Sykes to lead the Emmett Till Justice Campaign. The act authorizes the reopening of cold cases of suspected violent crimes committed against African Americans.
The original bill, which was authorized through 2017, authorized investigating cases occurring before 1970. In 2016 the bill was reauthorized, strengthened and expanded to allow reopening of cases through 1979.
In the 2022 Congressional Omnibus Bill passed in December, $14.5 million in funding was authorized for the bill.