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

Revered Chicago historian Timuel Black spoke with students at Roberts Temple in Bronzeville, where Till’s funeral was held.

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Students met with Timuel Black at Roberts Temple, the site of the 1955 funeral of 14-year-old Emmett Till. “Seeing the body confirmed what some of us knew, and the anger which we carried with us,” Black told the high school students with a Chicago Architecture Center program. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ
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Students met with Timuel Black at Roberts Temple, the site of the 1955 funeral of 14-year-old Emmett Till. “Seeing the body confirmed what some of us knew, and the anger which we carried with us,” Black told the high school students with a Chicago Architecture Center program. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

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

Revered Chicago historian Timuel Black spoke with students at Roberts Temple in Bronzeville, where Till’s funeral was held.

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

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Emmett Till AP Photo, File

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.

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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. Chicago Sun-Times/Chicago Daily News collection / Chicago History Museum

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.

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

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.