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Traveling Emmett Till Exhibit Lands in D.C. 

Let the World See exhibit poster outside of MLK Memorial Library. Photo by John Kendrick.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in downtown Washington, D.C., will be home to the Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley: Let the World See exhibit until March 12. Accessible through the main entrance of the library, students and Howard University community members can view the exhibit at no cost.

The exhibit showcases the history of Till, a young African American boy raised in Chicago who was brutally murdered by two white men during a trip visiting relatives in Mississippi in 1955. The exhibit explores the legacy that Till left on the African American community, as well as the bravery of his mother, Till-Mobley. 

Created by the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Institute, the Emmett Till Interpretive Center and the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the exhibit is visiting seven cities. The exhibit began its tour in Indianapolis before moving to Birmingham, Alabama, and now Washington D.C. Following its display in the District, the exhibit is set to travel to Jackson, Mississippi, Chicago and Atlanta. 

The exhibit will conclude its seven-city tour in Memphis, Tennessee. The exhibit is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Maddox Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. 

Let The World See includes a variety of sound and light shows that help immerse audiences into the different events that make up the history and the story of Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley. A variety of pictures, articles and documentaries are all on display within the exhibit. 

The exhibit begins by telling the story of Till’s upbringing in Chicago and progresses towards his death, funeral, trial, and concludes with his mother’s advocacy. These moments of history are brought to life through sketches, drawings and artifacts related to Till’s death.  

The legacy and impact that Till’s story had on the community is also reflected throughout the exhibit. Pictures of protest demonstrations in honor of Till along with examples of the variety of different injustices toward the African-American community are all on display at the Let The World See Exhibit. 

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Black Lives Matter Demonstration was a part of the Let The World See exhibit. Photo by John Kendrick.

“Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley: Let the World See is an exhibit that shares the story of how a 

mother’s bravery and fight for justice more than six decades ago fueled the civil rights movement in America,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted last week. 

The exhibit began its tour around the same time the film, “Till,” debuted in theaters around the United States last fall. Additionally, both the exhibit and the film were made available to the public the same year that President Joe Biden passed the Emmett Till Anti Lynching Act. Last week, President Biden also hosted a screening of the film “Till” at the White House. 

“You know, as this film powerfully does, it tells the story of a mother’s loss, and a young son’s promise, a nation’s reckoning about hate, violence, and power,” Biden said at the screening last Thursday evening. 

At the end of the exhibit, members of the community were encouraged to write what they learned about the Tills’ story and attach it to a bulletin board next to the exhibit. The takeaways from the exhibit included community members learning about  journalists who went undercover to find witnesses to testify in the trial of J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant–the two men who murdered Till, though they were found not guilty. 

“It took guts for all these people to stand up against Milam and Bryant. It’s hard to stomach the violence done to such a young boy,” one member commented. 

It was recently reported by several outlets that one of Till’s remaining relatives has filed a federal lawsuit urging a Mississippi sheriff to issue an arrest warrant for Carolyn Bryant Donham, the woman who accused Till of assaulting her.

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Copy edited by Chanice McClover-Lee


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