Racism is subject of Emmett Till exhibition


Emmett Till

If you remember the story of Emmett Till, a black teenager who was beaten and killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman in 1955, you will want to see a new exhibit that just opened in Indianapolis. Here's the info from The Children's Museum of Indianapolis:


A vandalized roadside sign that marked a child’s murder is visiting The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. The subject matter is difficult, but the creators of the exhibit, the Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley Institute, the Emmett Till Interpretive Center, the Till family, and The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, believe it is vital to educate families on what has happened in the past in hopes of fostering racial harmony and reconciliation today.

The "Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley: Let the World See" is on view now.


Emmett Till, a black 14-year-old from Chicago, was visiting family in Money, Mississippi, when he was kidnapped from his great-uncle’s home and savagely beaten and murdered by a group of white men on Aug. 28, 1955. Weighted by a cotton gin fan, his lifeless body was thrown into the Tallahatchie River and was found three days later.


His torture and murder were retaliation for violating the social mores of the Deep South by 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. She wanted the world to see what was unjustly done to her son. Over 100,000 people viewed his body at Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Chicago over three days. Photographs of his mutilated body circulated internationally, and people stood up who had never stood up before. Emmett’s story and Mamie’s activism served as catalysts to the Civil Rights Movement.

Fifty years after Emmett’s murder, the Emmett Till Memorial Commission formed to acknowledge the county’s role in the miscarriage of justice for Emmett Till and to work towards racial healing. In 2007, citizens of Tallahatchie County offered an apology to the Till family on the steps of the courthouse where two of the murderers walked free.

The Commission installed a series of commemorative signs throughout Tallahatchie County acknowledging the role of those sites in Emmett’s murder, including at the site where Emmett’s body may have been removed from the Tallahatchie River.

The Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley Institute, the Emmett Till Interpretive Center, the Till family, and The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis are creating a national touring exhibit to share this tragic story of American racism — past and present — and the story of communities committed to racial healing.

“We are honored to work with this incredible team including Emmett’s family to elevate this important story and bring attention to widespread racism that continues today,” said Jennifer Pace Robinson, president and CEO of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. “Using important stories of real people from the past, we want to provide a safe space for families to have critical conversations so they can better understand the key conditions that create change today and give them a starting point in determining positive ways in which they can personally make a difference through collaborative learning and discussing problem solving together.”

Because of the difficult subject matter, this exhibit is recommended for children 10 and older, and those between 10 and 18 years of age should be accompanied by an adult.