The young boy whose death sparked an integral push to the Civil Rights movement is being honored in the country’s most prominent museum system. On the 54th anniversary of his death, the Smithsonian is adding the glass covered casket of Emmett Till to their collection of esteemed exhibits. His family made the announcement at a memorial service for Till Friday. The service took place at Roberts Temple Church of God In Christ in Chicago, the same place where his funeral was held. His cousin, Simeon Wright, reflected on the death of his relative during the service saying:
“Fifty-four years ago, I don’t know where you all were, but I know where I was. It was a day in Mississippi that the laughter left our home…..no one laughed after that day. ”
His casket will be refurbished and featured at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture, which is scheduled to open in 2015. The casket was in recent headlines after being found in a dilapidated state at a Chicago Cemetery where grave robbers were exhuming bodies. When police went to open the casket, live animals jumped out. Till’s body was not in the casket at the time because it had been removed during a reinvestigation of the case.
The 14-year old boy suffered an untimely death at the hands of two white men after whistling at a white woman in 1955. His entire body was mutilated and unrecognizable. During the funeral, his now late mother Mammie Till had an open casket funeral for Emmett so the world could see how racist the country was.