The lynching of Emmett Till in Mississippi ignited the civil rights movement across the country in the 1950s, but it was Till’s mother who shined a spotlight on the injustice.

Chicago native Mamie Elizabeth Till-Mobley decided to leave the casket open at Emmett Till’s funeral for the world to see what had happened to her son.

The visual bruises and scars on the dead body of the 14-year-old boy awoke the nation to the need for change.

After the funeral, Mamie Till went on a nationwide speaking tour on behalf of the NAACP, speaking about her son’s death and calling for racial justice.

She taught in the Chicago Public Schools system for more than 20 years, and worked to educate school children about civil rights. She died in 2003.  In 2022 Congress awarded Till-Mobley and her son with a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal.