The D.C. Public Library system is hosting a new Emmett Till exhibit: The Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley: Let the World See touring exhibit, which debuted at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library’s Great Hall on Thursday.
“It’s an exhibition about Emmett Till; it’s an exhibition about his mother’s advocacy after his brutal murder,” said DCPL Executive Director Richard Reyes-Gavilan.
The exhibit tells the story of Emmett Till and how his mother’s fight for justice fueled the civil rights movement. She insisted on a public open casket funeral that showed how badly mutilated her son’s body was.
The exhibit, designed for visitors as young as 10 years old, was created by the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Institute, the Emmett Till Interpretive Center, the Till family and The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
“The exhibition goes into great depth, provides great nuance and does it in a way that’s very accessible to family,” said Reyes-Gavilan.
Children’s Museum CEO Jennifer Pace Robinson said the District is the third stop on the exhibit’s tour.
“We really decided to stay true to Mamie’s story. She wanted to get the word out … we actually raised enough money to go to seven different cities,” Pace Robinson said.
An opening event for the exhibit on Thursday evening featured a keynote by the Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr. — cousin and best friend of Emmett Till, as well as the last living witness to his abduction.
The event also included a panel discussion about the role the media played in keeping Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley’s story alive, including:
- Ayesha Rascoe, NPR Weekend Edition and Up First
- Denise Rolark Barnes, Publisher and Second-Generation Owner of The Washington Informer
- Dr. Amber Hewitt, Chief Equity Officer for the Government of the District of Columbia and the
- Director of the Mayor’s Office of Racial Equity
- David J. Johns, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition
- Vann R. Newkirk II, Senior Editor of The Atlantic