If you are looking for an expert to discuss Rupert Murdoch stepping down at Fox News, Lynne Vincent, associate professor of management at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management, is available for interviews. If you’d like to schedule an interview…
On National Monuments for Emmett Till and Mamie Till Mobley
Paula C. Johnson, Professor of Law and Director of the Cold Case Justice Initiative , offers reactions to the announcement that President Joe Biden will establish a national monument honoring Emmett Till, the Black teenager who was abducted and killed by white supremacists in 1955, and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, who helped galvanize the civil rights movement by bravely displaying her child’s brutalized body for the world to see. The Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument will span three protected sites in Illinois, where Emmett was born 82 years ago, and in Mississippi, where he was killed at the age of 14.
“The dedication of the national monuments to Emmett Louis Till and his mother Mamie Till Mobley are essential to inscribing their memories and legacies into the American landscape. There are many lives and chapters that make up the entire history of the United States. Some of them are horrid, such as the brutal murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till, a Black youth who fell prey to the racist and gender norms of American society based on lies – the lie of his alleged sexual affront against a White woman, the lie that his death was justified based on his race and his refusal to deny his own humanity, the lie that the perpetrators of this crime could not be held legally accountable, and the lie that the truth of these events would ever be forgotten. President Biden’s declaration of these monuments ensures that their sacrifices and contributions will be included in the whole telling of America,” said Johnson.
“A society can only advance and become just if it faces the glorious and inglorious realities of its history. Ms. Mobley knew this and pulled back the curtain and insisted that the world see the grotesqueness of racism that was brutally leveled against her son. Her challenge to us then, as now, is to see, to know, and to confront these truths of her son’s murder and the many others who were violated, disappeared and killed for racist motivations with impunity. This country owes so much to the Till family for insisting that what was always known to be wrong someday would be made right. But individuals, officials, and institutions repeatedly failed them. There was no justice for them in 1955 with the farcical trial acquitting Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam nor as recently as 2023 with the refusal to serve the discovered arrest warrant against Carolyn Bryant Donham. Yet, the Till family turned disappointment, anger and grief into a catalyst to spur a movement for civil rights and change. As James Baldwin recognized, ‘Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced,'” said Johnson.
“Today, as we witness disgraceful attempts to erase, diminish and distort the histories and experiences of diverse Americans based on race, gender, sexuality or identity, the Till family reminds us that the struggle for truth and justice continues. It is so with these monuments. These national monuments are a testament that efforts to quash truth will not succeed and that memory, legacy and the never-ending demand for justice will prevail. As the nation pays honor and gratitude to the Till family through these monuments, we are reminded that we must face all that we are if we ever hope to be all that we can be,” said Johnson.
Reporters who want to interview Johnson on this story, please contact Ellen James Mbuqe, executive director of media relations at Syracuse University, at email@example.com or 412-496-0551.