Emmett Till, Mamie Till Mobley

This family handout photograph taken in Chicago, date unknown, shows Mamie Till Mobley and her son, Emmett Till, whose lynching in 1955 became a catalyst for the civil rights movement.

WASHINGTON — Congress should give the nation’s highest civilian honor posthumously to Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, a Republican and a Democratic senator said Wednesday.

Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., said the Congressional Gold Medal is long overdue for the Till family.

Till was a black 14-year-old lynched in Mississippi in 1955 by white men who were later acquitted despite eyewitness testimony tying them to the killing. He had been accused of whistling at a white woman at Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market in  Money.

Mamie Till-Mobley demanded an open-casket funeral for her son in Chicago. A photograph of Till’s brutalized body galvanized the civil rights movement. She remained a civil rights activist in honor of her slain son for the rest of her life.

“That legacy is still felt today, and honoring it is more important than ever,” Burr said in a statement announcing the bill introduction.

“While his lynching and the impunity that followed was unique in its horror, it revealed the persistent legacy of racialized terror and violence waged against Black Americans and reflected the stain of racism and bigotry that this nation continues to struggle with today,” Booker said.

Till-Mobley created the Emmett Till Players, in which teens traveled through the country presenting the speeches of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. She also was a founder of the Emmett Till Justice Campaign, which pushed for the re-investigation of Till’s murder.

President George W. Bush signed the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Act, which allows cold civil rights cases to be reopened, into law in 2008.

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