Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley: Let the World See

Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley: Let the World See

Jan. 26—Mar. 12, 2023 | Great Hall

Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley: Let the World See

About the Exhibit | Companion ExhibitPlan Your Visit | EventsRecommended ReadsExhibit Tour Schedule

About the Exhibit

Emmett Till and Mamie Till-MobleyEmmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley: Let the World See is a touring exhibition recommended for visitors ages 10 and up that shares the story of how a mother's bravery and fight for justice more than six decades ago fueled the civil rights movement in America and provides a framework for people and communities committed to racial healing.

Emmett Till was just a child when he was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered by white supremacists in the Jim Crow South in 1955. When the perpetrators tried to cover it up, Emmett’s mother, Mamie, insisted that the world know what they did to her son. She bravely shared her 14-year-old son’s story with all who would listen—and fueled a movement that changed the nation. Much progress has been made since 1955; however, Mamie Till-Mobley’s work is far from over. 

Created in collaboration with the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Institute, the Emmett Till Interpretive Center, the Till family, and The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley: Let The World See, tells the story of Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, challenging visitors to make a ripple for justice in their own communities. 

The exhibit tells five key stories:
  1. Emmett’s personal story
  2. How the brave actions of Emmett's mom, Mamie Till-Mobley, fueled the Civil Rights Movement
  3. How a community and family have worked to keep Emmett’s memory alive
  4. How the vandalized historical marker connects to us today
  5. How we can commit to social justice in our own communities
DC Public Library is grateful to the DC Public Library Foundation for their support of this exhibition. Click here to learn more about the Foundation and their work.
“We are honored to work with this incredible team of institutions as well as Emmett Till’s family to elevate this harrowing story and call attention to the ongoing threats of violence to which Black boys remain vulnerable. Telling the story of Emmett and his mother, along with the stories of other real people from the past and present, gives the Library an opportunity to provide space for reflection, dialogue, and learning.” Richard Reyes-Gavilan

Companion Exhibit: Mothers of the Movement

MOTM-website.jpg (1000×802)Each location on the exhibit tour has been invited to contribute local content in response to the prompt, "What are the difficult truths in your community's history? And how can you help your community remember it and strive for social change?" Within Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley: Let The World See you will find a case titled Local Connections which honors the role that local Black reporters played in ensuring that Emmett's story reached a wide audience.

In addition, the DC Public Library has developed a companion exhibit, Mothers of the Movement, using material from The People's Archive, in collaboration with local advisers. The exhibit uplifts the role Black women activists in our region have had, standing at the front lines to combat lynchings and police brutality for more than a century. It seeks to raise awareness of the ongoing issue of racial violence in our region and to center the perspectives of mothers and families fighting for justice today.

The DC Public Library Exhibits Team extends a special thanks to the Mothers of the Movement Advisory Committee, and participating mothers for their support of this exhibit.

“There are many Mamie Till-Mobleys right here in our region…” Marion Gray-Hopkins

Plan Your Visit
Family Viewing the ExhibitEmmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley will be on display in the Great Hall of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library from Jan. 27 - Mar. 12. The exhibition is recommended for visitors ages 10 and up. 

Learning about Emmett’s story can be a challenging experience and can bring on strong emotions. As a place dedicated to preserving and sharing our stories, the DC Public Library is committed to providing a supportive environment for visitors. Docents will be available for individuals and families to ask questions on a regular schedule listed below:

Mondays 9:30 - 11:30 a.m.
Tuesday and Thursdays 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.

Additional tour times are available by request. Fill out this form to request a tour.

Families may also want to consider downloading the Family Guide for the exhibition.

After you see the exhibit we invite you to stop by the reflection area which will include readings and activities to help visitors to process what they have learned.

"This newly created exhibit helps us explore why it is so difficult to honor the memory of a 14-year-old child. We are thankful to the Maddox Foundation, Rev. Wheeler Parker, the Till Institute and TCM for helping us create this powerful exhibit." Patrick Weems

Opening Event 

The DC Public Library will be hosted a special opening event for Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley: Let the World See, on Thursday, Jan. 26 at 6 p.m. The event will featured remarks by DC Public Library Executive Director Richard Reyes-Gavilan and the Honorable Mayor Muriel Bowser; a moving keynote by Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr., the cousin and best friend of Emmett Till and a panel discussion about the role of the media in disseminating and keeping alive the story of Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley, including:

  • Ayesha Rascoe, NPR Weekend Edition and Up First
  • Denise Rolark Barnes, Publisher and Second-Generation Owner of The Washington Informer
  • Dr. Amber Hewitt, Chief Equity Officer for the Government of the District of Columbia and the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Racial Equity
  • David J. Johns, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition
  • Vann R. Newkirk II, Senior Editor of The Atlantic

You can watch the event on demand on Youtube or by clicking play on the embedded video below. 

Additionally, the DC Public Library is hosting a variety of events and activities for all ages for Black History Month where you can continue to learn and explore topics related to Black resistance and the Civil Rights movement. Visit the library's calendar to find upcoming events at a neighborhood library near you.

With the compelling narrative presented by the Museum’s Emmett Till traveling exhibit, we can be sure that future generations of civic leadership will be inspired in choosing to participate, much as our activist heroes of the past—people like the late civil rights leader and U.S. Congressman, John Lewis—have done. Clearly, we all stand to gain from such dedicated public engagement." Chris Benson

Recommended Reads
After you visit the exhibit, your child may have questions about the topics discussed in Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley: Let the World See. The DC Public Library has curated a list of recommended fiction and non-fiction reads for children and teens that you can check out with your library card that will allow your child to learn more about the topics and encourage them to see how they can make positive changes in their own community. Click on the images below to see the titles in the library's catalog.

Learning About the Civil Rights Movement
Cover image for Getting away with murder : the true story of the Emmett Till case / Chris Crowe. Cover image for The Watsons go to Birmingham--1963 / a novel by Christopher Paul Curtis. Cover image for Claudette Colvin : twice toward justice / by Phillip Hoose.
Cover image for Child of the dream : a memoir of 1963 / Sharon Robinson. Cover image for Midnight without a Moon Cover image for March (2013), Book One
Learning About Social Justice and Activism
Cover image for Uncomfortable conversations with a black boy / Emmanuel Acho. Cover image for Swing / Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess. Cover image for Choosing brave : how Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till sparked the civil rights movement / Angela Joy ; illustrated by Janelle Washington.
Cover image for Stamped Cover image for This book is anti-racist / by Tiffany Jewell ; illustrated by Aurélia Durand. Cover image for It's your world : get informed, get inspired & get going! / Chelsea Clinton.
Books for Adults
Amazon.com: Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime that Changed  America eBook : Till-Mobley, Mamie, Benson, Christopher, Jackson, Jesse:  Books Cover image for A few days full of trouble : revelations on the journey to justice for my cousin and best friend, Emmett Till / Reverend Wheeler Parker Jr. and Christopher Benson. Cover image for Let the people see : the story of Emmett Till / Elliott J. Gorn.

“The thing I want families to take away from this is that we can learn from the past on what NOT to do and we can improve on race relations at this time.” Reverend Wheeler Parker

Exhibit Tour Schedule
The Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley exhibit will visit seven cities, including Washington, D.C.
  • Sept. 17 – Oct. 30, 2022 | The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (Indianapolis, IN)
  • Nov. 19, 2022 – Jan. 8, 2023 | Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, AL)
  • Jan. 26 – Mar. 12, 2023 | Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library (Washington, DC)
  • Apr, 1 – May 14, 2023 | Two Mississippi Museums (Jackson, MS)
  • June 3 – July 16, 2023 | DuSable Museum of African American History (Chicago, IL)
  • Aug. 5 – Sept. 17, 2023 | Atlanta History Center (Atlanta, GA)
  • Oct. 7 – Nov. 19, 2023 | National Civil Rights Museum (Memphis, TN)
After touring, the exhibit will be a permanent destination at the Emmett Till Interpretive Center in Sumner, MI. You can also take a virtual tour on the official exhibit website, including in-depth videos and interviews. 
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