Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


"I realized that Emmett had achieved the significant impact in death that he had been denied in life. Even so, I had never wanted Emmett to be a martyr. I only wanted him to be a good son. Although I realized all the great things that had been accomplished largely because of the sacrifices made by so many people, I found myself wishing that somehow we could have done it another way."

- Mamie Till, mother of Emmett Till

            Let us remember Mamie Till, the mother of 14 year old Emmett Till. Although she passed away on January 6, 2003, she inspired us by speaking out against evil and fighting for justice for her son. We remember your son too, and we made him one of The 82 murdered children of Unit 1012, where we will not forget him. We will post information about her from Wikipedia and other links. 

Till-Mobley during a interview outside the courthouse after Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam was acquitted for the murder of her son Emmett Till, September 23, 1955.

Mamie Elizabeth Carthan
November 23, 1921
Webb, Mississippi, U.S.
January 6, 2003 (aged 81)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Argo Community High School
Chicago Teacher's College
Loyola University Chicago
Known for
Mother of Chicago teenager Emmett Till who was murdered in Mississippi in 1955.
Louis Till (m. 1940–45) (1 child; Emmett Till)
Pinky Bradley (m. 1951–52)
Gene Mobley (m. 1975–99)

Mamie Elizabeth Till-Mobley (born Mamie Elizabeth Carthan; November 23, 1921 – January 6, 2003) was the mother of Emmett Till, whose murder mobilized the African-American Civil Rights Movement. Emmett Till was murdered in Mississippi on August 28, 1955, at the age of 14, after being accused of acting inappropriately with a white woman. For her son's funeral in Chicago, Mamie Till insisted that the casket containing his body be left open, because, in her words, "I wanted the world to see what they did to my baby."

Emmett Till in a photograph taken by his mother on Christmas Day 1954, about eight months before his murder. When the photo ran in the Jackson Daily News Till and his mother were given "a profound pathos in the flattering photograph", which "humanized the Tills".
Early life

Born Mamie Elizabeth Carthan on November 23, 1921 in a small town near Webb, Mississippi, she was the only child of John and Alma Carthan. Wanting to leave the South, in 1922 her father moved to Argo, Illinois, near Chicago, shortly after her birth. In Argo, a small industrial town, he found work at the Argo Corn Products Refining Company. Alma Carthan joined her husband in January 1924, bringing two-year-old Mamie with her. They settled in a predominately black and close-knit neighborhood in Argo. When Mamie was 13, her parents divorced. Devastated, she threw herself into her school work, and excelled in her studies. Alma had high hopes for her only child and although Alma Carthan said that in her day "the girls had one ambition -- to get married", she had encouraged Mamie in her studies. Even though very few of Mamie's peers even finished high school, Mamie was the first black student to make the "A" Honor roll, and only the fourth black student to graduate from the predominately white Argo Community High School.

Aged 18, she met a young man from New Madrid, Missouri named Louis Till. He worked at the Argo Corn Company, was an amateur boxer, and was popular with women. Her parents disapproved, thinking the charismatic Till was "too sophisticated" for their daughter. At her mother's insistence, she broke off their courtship. But the persistent Till won out, and they married on October 14, 1940. Both were 18 years old. Their only child, Emmett Louis Till, was born 9 months later. They separated in 1942 after she found out he had been unfaithful, and later choked her to unconsciousness, to which she responded by throwing scalding water at him. Eventually she obtained a restraining order against him. After violating this repeatedly, a judge forced him to choose between enlistment in the U.S. Army or facing jail time. Choosing the former, he joined the Army in 1943.

In 1945 Mamie received notice from the Department of Defense informing her, without a full explanation, that her husband had been killed during army service in Italy. Mamie Till would later say that she was only told that his death was due to "willful misconduct", and noted that bureaucracy had frustrated her attempts to learn anything more. In fact, Louis Till had been court-martialed on charges of the murder of an Italian woman and the rape of two others in Civitavecchia, in Italy. After a lengthy investigation he was convicted, and was executed by hanging near Pisa on July 2, 1945. But the details of Till's execution only fully emerged ten years later, after the murder of his son Emmett and the subsequent trial for that crime. By the early 1950s, Mamie and Emmett had moved to Chicago's South Side. Mamie met and married "Pink" Bradley, but they divorced two years later.

Emmett Till and Mamie Till
Murder of Emmett Till

In 1955, when Emmett was fourteen, his mother put him on the train to spend the summer visiting his cousins in Money, Mississippi. She was never to see him alive again. Her son was abducted and brutally murdered on August 28, 1955, after being accused of interacting inappropriately with a white woman. The following month Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam faced trial for Till's kidnapping and murder, but were acquitted by the all-white jury, after a five day trial and a 67-minute deliberation. One juror said, "If we hadn't stopped to drink pop, it wouldn't have taken that long." Only months later, in an interview with Look magazine in 1956, protected against double jeopardy, Bryant and Milam admitted to killing Emmett Till.

For her son's funeral, Till insisted that the casket containing his body be left open, because, in her words, "I wanted the world to see what they did to my baby." Tens of thousands of people viewed Emmett's body and photographs were circulated around the country. Through the constant attention it received, the Till case became emblematic of the disparity of justice for blacks in the South. The NAACP asked Mamie Till to tour the country relating the events of her son's life, death, and the trial of his murderers. It was one of the most successful fundraising campaigns the NAACP had ever known.

Mamie at her son’s casket
Later life, education and death

Mamie Till graduated from Chicago Teacher's College in 1956. She remarried one last time, to Gene Mobley on June 24, 1957. She became a teacher, changed her surname to Till-Mobley, and continued her life as an activist working to educate people about what happened to her son. In 1976 she obtained a master's degree in administration at Loyola University Chicago. In 1992, Mamie Till-Mobley had the opportunity to listen while Roy Bryant was interviewed about his involvement in her son's murder. With Bryant unaware that Till-Mobley was listening, he asserted that Emmett Till had ruined his life. He expressed no remorse and stated "Emmett Till is dead. I don't know why he can't just stay dead." Two years later, in 1994, Roy Bryant died of cancer, aged 63. Mamie and Gene Mobley were happily married until Gene's death from a stroke on March 18, 1999. Mamie Till-Mobley died of heart failure in 2003, aged 81. The same year, her autobiography (written with Christoper Benson), Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime that Changed America, was published.

January 7, 2003

Mamie Mobley, 81, Dies; Son, Emmett Till, Slain in 1955


CHICAGO, Jan. 6— Nearly 50 years after the death of her son, Emmett Till, who was murdered and thrown into a river in Mississippi, Mamie Till Mobley died here today, still clinging to the hope for justice. She was 81.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, speaking tonight at a news conference on behalf of the family inside her home, said Mrs. Mobley had been having dialysis about three times a week for some time and that she suffered cardiac arrest today. Family members said she was rushed to Jackson Park Hospital, where she died about 2:30 p.m.

After the killing of her 14-year-old son in 1955 in Money, Miss., Mrs. Mobley allowed his mutilated body to be displayed in an open coffin during his funeral service, where mourners recoiled at the sight of Emmett's wounds.

His death came to symbolize the brutality in the racist South and became a symbol of the civil rights movement. Emmett was killed for supposedly whistling at a white woman, an act that in the Jim Crow South could mean a lynching for a black man.

Mrs. Mobley became an outspoken champion for children in poor neighborhoods and spent more than half her life keeping alive the memory of Emmett and the hope of bringing his killers to justice. At the time of her death, she was writing a book, ''Death of Innocence,'' which is to be published this fall by Random House.

No one was ever convicted in her only son's death, a fact that drove Mrs. Mobley to speak out about racial injustice for more than four decades.
''It was very difficult; that's what kept her living all 81 years,'' said Airickca Gordon, 33, a surrogate granddaughter, who was reared by Mrs. Mobley.

''Her ultimate goal was to bring justice for what happened to her son. She was constantly speaking on it, trying to get the story out,'' Ms. Gordon said. ''She was yet doing activist work. She never stopped. That's what kept her going.''

Ms. Gordon said she would most remember Mrs. Mobley for her spirit.

''Her will and her spirit,'' she said, calling her ''a strong-willed woman.''

In addition to writing the current book, with Chris Benson, a Chicago lawyer and author, on her son's case, Mrs. Mobley is also featured in a new documentary, ''The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till,'' by Keith Beauchamp.

Mr. Jackson praised Mrs. Mobley as a woman of strength who did not harbor hate and who used her son's death to transform the lives of others.

''She was still consoling and still teaching,'' Mr. Jackson said.

''What must be put into perspective is that we often say the modern Civil Rights movement began with Rosa Parks in Montgomery. That's really not accurate,'' Mr. Jackson said. He said Emmett's murder ''broke the emotional chains of Jim Crow.''

''Mrs. Mobley did a profound strategic thing,'' Mr. Jackson added. ''With his body water-soaked and defaced, most people would have kept the casket covered. She let the body be exposed. More than 100,000 people saw his body lying in that casket here in Chicago. That must have been at that time the largest single civil rights demonstration in American history.''

After Emmett's death, Mrs. Mobley recently told The Times, ''at first, I just wanted to go in a hole and hide my face from the world.''

But she said she soon began to talk about her son's death and to sound the call for justice.

''It gives me a chance to get out what is clogged up inside, because if I don't talk, it stays in and worries me,'' she said. ''If I can let it go, even though I cry sometimes, I have some relief.''

She believed that her son's dying ultimately was not in vain. And despite what was done to him, Mrs. Mobley said, ''I have not spent one minute hating.''

Services are pending.

Photo: Mamie Till Mobley, in 1995, with a photograph of her son, Emmett Till. (Associated Press, 1995)


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