The bill, which was approved by the Senate in January, is intended to confer the highest civilian honor that Congress bestows upon Till and his mother, who insisted on an open casket funeral to highlight the severity of his murder. The medal will be donated to the National Museum of African American History, where it will be put on display close to the coffin that Till was laid to rest in.
Till was abducted, tortured and killed in 1955 after witnesses said he whistled at a white woman at a grocery store in rural Mississippi, a violation of the South’s racist societal codes at the time. In return, he was rousted from bed and abducted from a great-uncle’s home in the predawn hours four days later. The killing galvanized the civil rights movement after Till’s mother insisted on an open casket and Jet magazine published photos of his brutalized body.