ABWW Heroine of the Day: Mamie Till-Mobley

Happy Juneteenth everyone. On the day that we celebrate the true end of chattel slavery in this county, it seems right to honor a woman whose courage lit the flame of the modern civil rights movement. Mamie Till was able to do what thousands of other could not do, she refused to quietly bury her son as another victim of lynching. Instead she exposed the savagery in the way her son was executed to the world instead of suffering in silence. The all-white jury’s decision to exonerate the two white defendants after about an hour of deliberations only inspired Ms. Till-Mobley to continue talking about his brutal demise.

Mamie Till-Mobley was born in Hazelhurst, Miss., and grew up in Chicago. She was a 1956 cum laude graduate of Chicago Teachers College and in 1975 received a master’s degree in administration and supervision from Loyola University in Chicago. She had a distinguished career as a teacher and civil rights activist until her death in 2003.

In 1989 her son was honored as one of the 40 martyrs of the modern Civil Rights Movement. “When my eyes were a fountain of tears,” she said, “the realization came that Emmett’s death was not a personal experience for me to hug to myself and weep, but it was a worldwide awakening that would change the course of history. Emmett’s death was the impetus for the Civil Rights Movement in America. It was also the spark that ignited unrest in all the world where injustices were being perpetrated.”

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