Exhibit Tells Story of Emmett Till's Murder and His Mother's Activism

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A powerful exhibit opening Friday at D.C.’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library tells the story of Emmett Till's murder and his mother’s activism, which helped launch the civil rights movement.

Almost 70 years after Till’s brutal murder, “Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley: Let the World See” is in D.C. in time for Black History Month.

“And if anybody needs reminding, Black history is American history,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said.

She was one of hundreds to get a preview of the touring exhibit Thursday. 

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis teamed with the family and nonprofit partners to tell Till’s story to students across the country through photos, videos and first-hand accounts.

“They have done a great job showing the story and telling the truth that happened,” said the Rev. Wheeler Parker, Emmett Till’s cousin.

Parker was 16 years old in the summer of 1955 when his 14-year-old cousin was murdered. He is the last living witness to Till’s abduction and says those terrifying moments still replay in his mind.

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“I said, ‘God, I’m getting ready to die, so if you just let me live I’m going to get it together, I’m going to get it right,’” he said.

Though not suitable for young children, organizers stress the exhibit isn’t just about tragedy. It’s also a celebration of advocacy.

Students will learn about Mamie Till-Mobley’s activism following her son’s death, which sparked the civil rights movement.

“She said herself, ‘I didn't fall apart, but I wanted to. I knew that I didn't have time to cry. I had to do something,’” Bowser said.

With Black History Month kicking off next week, officials say there’s no better place to start this tour.

“Everything that we do here and in the city we hope has a tie to social justice and racial justice, and so we are in the perfect place and the perfect city,” D.C. Public Library Executive Director Richard Reyes-Gavilan said.

Organizers say the exhibit is meant for children ages 10 and up. It includes graphic images, but visitors can choose if they would like to see them.

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