The bill was unanimously passed by voice vote in the House on Wednesday, after it unanimously passed the Senate on January 10th this year.
The congressional award will be on display near Till’s casket at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
Known as the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2021, the legislation honors 14-year-old Emmett Till—who was killed by two white men in 1955 after he allegedly flirted with a white woman—and his mother for her commitment to activism.
After his brutal murder, EBONY’s sister publication JET published photos of Till’s mutilated body for the world to see at the request of his mother.
Commemorating the tragic incident, the film Till, starring EBONY 2022 Power 100 Awardees Danielle Deadwyler and Jalyn Hall, was released in theaters in October 2022.
Senator Cory Booker spoke about the significance of the legislation.
“[Till’s] brutal murder still serves as a reminder of the horror and violence experienced by Black Americans throughout our nation’s history,” Booker said in a press release. “The courage and activism demonstrated by Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, in displaying to the world the cruelty endured by her son helped awaken the nation’s conscience, forcing America to reckon with our failure to address racism and the glaring injustices that stem from such hatred.”
“The gruesome and unjust murder of Emmett Till serves as one of the most well-known examples of a lynching in American history," U.S. Representative Bobby Rush, one of the bill's sponsors, added in a news release. "Without the courage and determination of his mother, Mamie, in keeping his casket open during his funeral, the world would not know what happened to him or the full horrors of white supremacy," Rush continued. "We must honor Emmett's life and his mother Mamie's contributions to racial justice."
In March, President Joe Biden signed the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act into law, effectively making lynching a federal hate crime offense. The bill was the first anti-lynching law in U.S. history, following nearly 200 failed attempts to pass such legislation.
Established in 1776, other recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal include Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. Coretta Scott King and Jackie Robinson.