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A new statue dedicated to Emmett Till was unveiled on Friday in Greenwood, Miss.
Located in Greenwood’s Rail Spike Park, the new nine-foot statue depicts Till dressed in slacks and a button-up with one hand on the rim of his hat. In the back, the song “Wake Up, Everybody” reportedly played as workers removed the cover of the statue, according to AP News.
The statue is now the fifth memorial in Mississippi that’s dedicated to Till’s memory. In 2019, a fourth bulletproof historical marker was placed at the site of his death following repeated vandalism.
“This is a great day as we take another leap forward in recognizing the life and legacy of Emmett Till,” Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr, Till’s last remaining living family member to see him the night of his death, per ABC News. “As so many people are determined to erase our history, we are blessed to have so many more allies in the struggle to keep our story alive.”
“This statue is affirmation that our lives matter,” he added.
The new unveiling of the statue comes after a little over a week after a new movie about the Till family, titled “Till,” was released. Starring Danielle Deadwyler and Whoopi Goldberg, the new movie chronicles the activist work done by his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, following her son’s death as she also dealt with her own trauma.
Up until her death at the age of 81 in 2003, Till-Mobley worked to share her son’s story, often making up to three speeches a day in the month after the trial alone. Years later, in 1973, she officially founded the Emmett Till Players. With the program, she devoted her life to teaching students about things, such as unity and determination, through public speaking by having them perform speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Through her work both with and outside the Emmett Till Players, Till-Mobley sought to ensure that her son’s memory was never forgotten as a reminder of what her family and Black Americans as a community have been through.
Now, decades after his death and her activism, the U.S. officially passed a law named in honor of Till; on March 29, President Biden signed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act into law, officially making lynching a federal hate crime.
“To the Till family: We remain in awe of your courage to find purpose through your pain. To find purpose through your pain,” said President Biden in an official speech made on the day of the signing. “But the law is not just about the past, it’s about the present and our future as well.”