Remembering Emmett Till’s Funeral As A Catalyst For Civil Rights Movement | WBEZ
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Remembering Emmett Till’s Funeral As A Catalyst For Civil Rights Movement

Roberts Temple is a historic church on Chicago’s South Side.

emmett till
AP Photo, File
Emmett Till

In 1955, Emmett Till’s funeral was held here.

Till was a 14-year-old Chicago boy who was lynched while visiting relatives in Mississippi after a white woman accused him of whistling at her.

For four days, Till’s mutilated body was on display in the sanctuary. Some estimates suggest 100,000 people viewed his grotesque, disfigured remains. The event was a catalyst for the civil rights movement.

roberts temple
Chicago Sun-Times/Chicago Daily News collection/Chicago History Museum
Emmett Till's body was on display at Roberts Temple for four days leading up to his funeral. Tens of thousands of people viewed his mutilated body. "It accelerated the civil rights movement," Timuel Black told a group of Chicago high school students at the church recently.

Recently, some Chicago high schools students visited the church as part of a summer program with the Chicago Architecture Center. The students had a very special teacher for the day: Timuel Black, the revered 100-year-old Chicago civil rights activist and historian.

tim black 2
Manuel Martinez/WBEZ
Timuel Black took questions recently about Emmett Till’s funeral and its significance from students at Roberts Temple in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood.

WBEZ reporter Linda Lutton captured the conversation between Black and the students as he told them about Till’s funeral in the sanctuary where it took place.

You can listen in by pushing play, above.

Note: The audio contains some graphic details.

Linda Lutton is WBEZ’s neighborhoods reporter. Follow her @lindalutton.

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