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Preserving a legacy

Join Chicago’s Blacks in Green in the preservation and revitalization of the boyhood home of Emmett Till.

A Boy Lynched

While visiting family in Mississippi in the summer of 1955, fourteen-year-old Chicagoan Emmett Louis Till was kidnapped, tortured and brutally murdered by two white men for allegedly offending a white woman. Mere days after the incident, he was abducted from his great-uncle’s house in the middle of the night. Emmett’s body was discovered in and retrieved from the Tallahatchie River three days later.

Both assailants were acquitted by an all-white jury after a 67-minute deliberation of a five-day trial. Protected against double jeopardy, they admitted just months after the trial to killing Emmett.

Insisting on an open casket, Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley "wanted the world to see what they did to [her] baby.” The resulting heightened awareness catapulted Emmett’s story to the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement, bringing even more light to the disparity of justice for Black Americans.

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The Great Migration and a dream deferred

The Great Migration was the largest mass movement in American history. Five hundred thousand African Americans ultimately moved to Chicago. In the first wave of migration between 1915 and 1940 Chicago's black population more than doubled. They came to escape oppressive conditions of the south and to build a better life for themselves in areas such as Chicago’s West Woodlawn. Mamie Till-Mobley was one of those seeking the dream of a better life and her dream was deferred by the murder of her son, Emmett.

Blacks in Green is a leader in encouraging tourism to this and other Great Migration sites. This history is particularly rich in West Woodlawn, where luminaries such as Lorraine Hansberry lived with her family. Her best known work, the play A Raisin in the Sun, takes it’s title from a line in the poem, “What happens to a dream deferred?” by Langston Hughes, a visitor to her home there. Her play highlights the lives of Black Americans living under racial segregation in Chicago.

The Emmett Till House

Despite falling into moderate disrepair, the boyhood home of Emmett Till still stands. Blacks In Green, a Chicago-based nonprofit committed to revitalizing local communities is actively undertaking the transformation of the home and adjoining lot to create a communal gathering place in West Woodlawn.

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