February 28, 2023

Duckworth Reintroduces Bill to Establish Bronzeville Church that Held Emmett Till’s Funeral as a National Monument


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – On the last day of Black History Month 2023, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today reintroduced bipartisan legislation to designate the church that held Emmett Till’s pivotal funeral in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood as a national monument. The Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley, and Roberts Temple National Historic Site Act would establish the church as a national monument to be managed by the U.S. National Park Service to ensure that the historic church will be preserved and continue to tell Emmett Till’s critically important story as part of American history.

“The Roberts Temple Church is of both extraordinary and incredibly heartbreaking historical importance to Chicago, our state and to this country, and what happened to Emmett matters both during Black History Month and each day of the year,” Duckworth said. “By designating this church a national monument, we will help ensure that generations of Americans can come show respect to Mamie and Emmett’s stories. It’s past time we recognize how national monuments can not only teach us about our history—but provoke us to build a more just future.”

“We are grateful for the introduction of legislation to preserve the legacy of Emmett Till and Mamie Till Mobley by making Roberts Temple a National Historic Site, which will help to fulfill Mamie's request for my wife and I ‘to continue her work to ensure her son's death was not in vain,” said Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr., Dr. Marvel Parker and the Till family.

Roberts Temple Church congregation stated: “As congregants of Roberts Temple and members of the Roberts Family, we strongly support this endeavor as well as the ongoing efforts by racial justice and preservation organizations to obtain federal protection for Roberts Temple.”

Text of this bill can be found here.

A Chicagoan, Emmett’s funeral was held at the Roberts Temple Church after the 14 year old was brutalized and lynched in Mississippi in 1955. His mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, made the decision to have her son’s funeral as a public, open-casket wake. The wake was attended by thousands and sparked international discourse over his killing and racist violence in America and is cited as one of the catalysts for the Civil Rights Movement. Duckworth’s Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley, and Roberts Temple National Historic Site Act would establish the church as a historic site to be managed by the U.S. National Park Service to ensure that the church will continue to stand and that an important part of Emmett Till’s story is preserved. Duckworth was joined by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) in reintroducing this bipartisan legislation.

The members of the Till and Roberts families and a coalition of partner organizations have been working tirelessly to preserve and obtain federal recognition and National Park status for Roberts Temple, as well as for important sites linked to Emmett Till in Mississippi. These efforts are being led by the Emmett Till Interpretive Center, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, the National Parks Conservation Association, with support from Latham & Watkins LLP, through its pro bono program.