POTENTIAL WIN: Roberts Temple, Site of Emmett Till’s Funeral, Could Become National Historic Site

“The Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ, where Mamie Till-Mobley showed the world the brutality of American racism by holding an open-casket funeral for her murdered son Emmett Till, could soon be named a national historic site.

“U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) introduced a bill to place the deteriorating church at 4021 S. State St. into the care of the National Park Service. They’re calling for the building to be preserved and managed by the federal government.

“‘The Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ is both extraordinarily and heartbreakingly important to the nation, and in many ways to the world,’ Duckworth said. ‘Especially for today’s youth, understanding where they come from and knowing their history — as painful and traumatic as it was — is lifted up and valued by the country is important.’

“Rev. Wheeler Parker, Jr., Emmett Till’s cousin and last living witness to the teen’s abduction, said in a joint statement with relatives that their family is ‘grateful for the introduction of legislation to preserve the legacy of Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley by making Roberts Temple a National Historic Site.’

“Last year, the Roberts Temple church was named one of the nation’s “11 most endangered historic places” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The church “has severe structural issues,” is rarely used by the congregation and needs funding to be properly renovated, the organization said at the time.

“Legislators intend to get the bipartisan bill passed during this meeting of Congress, which ends in January 2023, Duckworth said. If passed, a plan for creating the national historic site must be in place no later than three years after funds are approved for the designation.

“Duckworth said she is ‘humbled’ that the Till family continues to partner with her and other national leaders, as they work to recognize sites honoring Emmett’s life and brutal death — both in Chicago and Mississippi. (Evans, Block Club Chicago, 3/18/21)

Preservation Chicago played an active role in the Chicago Landmark Designation of Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in 2006. At that time, we also advocated to landmark his home and school. The Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley Home finally became a Designated Chicago Landmark in 2021. We continue to advocate to designate the McCosh Elementary/Emmett Till Academy public school as a Designated Chicago Landmark. It would be marvelous to consider creating an Emmett Till Memorial Path connecting his home and school.

Read the full story at Block Club Chicago

Bronzeville Church That Held Emmett Till’s Funeral Would Become National Historic Site Under Durbin-Duckworth Bill; Mamie Till-Mobley showed the world her son’s brutalized body at Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Bronzeville. Senators want to preserve the building by placing it in the care of the National Park Service, Maxwell Evans, Block Club Chicago, 3/18/21

Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ Building Chicago Landmark Designation Report, November 2005

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