Emmett Till’s childhood home in Chicago given city landmark status

The West Woodlawn home is where Till and his mother lived before he went to Mississippi that fateful 1955 summer.

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The home of Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, has been deemed a Chicago landmark, marking the end of a years-long movement to preserve the history of the residence. 

Officially known as The Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley House, the brick two-family flat located in West Woodlawn will soon be converted into a museum. 

The West Woodlawn-located Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley House in Chicago, the home of Till (above), the 14-year-old boy whose brutal 1955 murder in Money, Mississippi sparked the civil rights movement, will be converted into a museum. (AP Photo, File)

The home at 6427 South St. Lawrence Avenue is where Till lived with his mother before he traveled to Money, Mississippi that fateful 1955 summer to visit relatives, where he was lynched after reportedly whistling at a white woman, the heinous murder that sparked America’s civil rights movement. 

“Achieving Landmark status for the Till-Mobley House is an important step in recognizing that Black cultural heritage sites long overlooked by the city are a vital part of Chicago’s past, present, and future,” Naomi Davis, founder and chief executive officer of Blacks in Green, the building’s nonprofit owner, told The Chicago Sun-Times. 

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Davis’ organization promotes the design and development of green, self-sustaining mixed-income Black communities and land stewardship. Additionally, it is raising funds to build The Till-Mobley Great Migration Museum, Garden and Theater in another lot near the home adjacent to another property it already owns, creating a cultural campus. 

“Emmett Till’s tragic murder,” said Davis, “is a part of Chicago and America’s Great Migration story that needs to be remembered and retold for generations to come.” 

Previous restoration efforts had often stalled. The building was purchased in 2019 by a developer who had no knowledge of its history. Blacks in Green bought the building from him in October. 

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“A lot of times, African-American history is forgotten. Before there was Trayvon Martin, before there was Eric Garner, there was Emmett Till,” said Ald. Jeanette Taylor, whose ward, Chicago’s 20th, is home to the Till-Mobley house.

“We still have a real problem in this country not addressing the brutality that has happened to Black folks, but also making sure we apologize and recognize it, and do things to move forward,” Taylor said when the ordinance was brought up for a vote Wednesday. “So I’m excited that the Emmett Till home is going to be preserved. We will repeat history if we don’t address it and have those very hard conversations.”

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