"Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley: Let the World See" Exhibit Comes to DC Public Library's Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library

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"Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley: Let the World See" Exhibit Comes to DC Public Library's Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library

Exhibit shows how a fight for justice launched the Civil Rights movement and its ongoing relevance to activism today

In 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till was kidnapped at gunpoint, then tortured and murdered after having been accused of flirting with a white woman in Mississippi. His mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, insisted on an open-casket funeral to expose the brutality to which her son had been subjected.

"Let the world see what they did to my boy." The world saw.

News coverage of Emmett’s funeral, including the photo of his grief-stricken mother at his casket, served as a catalyst for the Civil Rights movement. Today, nearly 60 years after his murder, racists continue to steal, shoot, and otherwise vandalize the historic markers installed near the Tallahatchie River where Emmett's body was found. 

The exhibit "Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley: Let the World See," which opens at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library on January 27, tells the story of Emmett's murder, his mother's activism, and how that activism continues to inspire a movement today. 

Created by the Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley Institute, the Emmett Till Interpretive Center, the Till family, and The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the exhibit tells five stories:

  • Emmett’s personal story
  • How Mamie Till-Mobley’s brave actions fueled the Civil Rights Movement
  • How a community and family have worked to keep Emmett’s memory alive
  • How the vandalized historic markers connect to us today
  • How attendees can commit to social justice in their communities

Emmett and Mamie Till-Mobley's stories are told with quotations, first-hand accounts, photos, videos, and activities. The exhibit is appropriate for visitors 10 years of age and older. While it includes disturbing graphic images important to the context of the story, visitors will need to voluntarily pull a tab to see those images. This way visitors can decide for themselves whether to include the photographs as part of their exhibition experience. In addition, children and families will be provided a space to reflect on the exhibit's impact on them. Conversational prompts will support opportunities for families to:

  • process the emotional and challenging content of Emmett’s life and murder,
  • consider how it connects to their lives today and 
  • consider how the barriers of racism can be broken down and turned into a bridge to a better future

Launched at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, "Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley: Let the World See" comes to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library after visiting the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama. After it leaves Washington DC, the exhibit will visit Two Mississippi Museums in Mississippi, DuSable Museum of African American History in Illinois, Atlanta History Center in Georgia, and the National Civil Rights Museum in Tennessee. It will ultimately be permanently added to the Emmett Till Interpretive Center in Sumner, Mississippi, near where the murder trial took place.  

As satellite components to the exhibit, items from DC Public Library's People's Archive will be featured in two nearby installations:

  • Within the main exhibit, “Local Connections: “The Till Case Reaches DC” shows the role of local Black reporters and the DC NAACP in ensuring that Emmett’s story was told, using newspaper clippings and historical images and quotes from key civil rights activists.
  • A companion exhibit, “Mothers of the Movement” explores the entwined histories of lynching and police brutality in the D.C. region 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 exhibit picks up on the example set by Mamie Till-Mobley highlighting the work of mothers/women in the DC Metropolitan area. 

"Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley: Let the World See" will be on display in the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library’s Great Hall until March 12. For more information visit dclibrary.org/lettheworldsee

“The Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley: Let the World See” was made possible in part by The National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom, the Maddox Foundation in Hernando, MS, The Institute for Museum and Library Services [MH-249226-OMS-21], and The Historic Preservation Fund administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior [15.904].  

About the Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley Institute
The Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Institute, a non-profit organization, is engaged in research and social justice advocacy.  We are dedicated to preserving the memory and historical significance of the life and death of Emmett Louis Till, and preserving the social action legacy of his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, to foster educational opportunities and civic engagement among youth.  Our focus is on funding research, education and public programs aimed at encouraging enlightened participation in the democratic process and working to build and maintain a civil society. For more information about the Till Institute, visit www.tillinstitute.org.

About the Emmett Till Interpretive Center
The Emmett Till Interpretive Center was formed to confront the brutal truth of the 1955 murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in the Mississippi Delta and to seek justice for the Till family and Delta community. The Center aims to tell the story of Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, as an act of restorative justice to create the conditions necessary to begin the process of racial healing in Mississippi and across the nation. For more information about the Emmett Till Interpretive Center, visit https://www.emmett-till.org or follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/tillcenter), twitter @emmetillcenter, or Instagram @tillnationalpark.

About The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is a nonprofit institution committed to creating extraordinary learning experiences across the arts, sciences, and humanities that have the power to transform the lives of children and families. For more information about The Children's Museum, visit www.childrensmuseum.org, follow us on Twitter @TCMIndy, Instagram@childrensmuseum, YouTube.com/IndyTCM, and Facebook.