According to CNN, North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker introduced the bill in Sept. 2020 and reintroduced it for the 117th Congress in 2021. The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award Congress offers.
“His gruesome murder still serves as a solemn reminder of the terror and violence experienced by Black Americans throughout our nation’s history,” Booker said in a statement. “The courage and activism demonstrated by Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, in displaying to the world the brutality endured by her son helped awaken the nation’s conscience, forcing America to reckon with its failure to address racism and the glaring injustices that stem from such hatred.”
He added, “More than six decades after his murder, I am proud to see the Senate pass long-overdue legislation that would award the Congressional Gold Medal to both Emmett and Mamie Till-Mobley in recognition of their profound contributions to our nation.”
Till was in Mississippi visiting family when he was kidnapped, beaten and killed after being falsely accused of making sexual advances at Carolyn Bryant Donham. Her husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam were charged for Till’s death, but were later acquitted by an all-white jury. Bryant and Milam later admitted to killing the 14-year-old boy during a paid interview.
Last month, the Department of Justice closed its investigation into Till’s lynching. The DOJ said it was unable to prove whether Donham lied to authorities. She previously testified that Till grabbed her hand and solicited her, saying that he had been with “white women before.” When she was later confronted with her testimony in 2008, Professor Timothy Tyson alleged she told him, “That part’s not true.” His claim called for the case to be reopened.