Reclaiming our history!
The Commission on Chicago Landmarks granted preliminary landmark status to the South Side Chicago home of Emmett Till, the Chicago SunTimes reports.
Till’s childhood home was granted preliminary landmark status on the same date that the teen’s funeral was held 65 years ago. The Commission on Chicago Landmarks voted unanimously to preserve the home at 6427 S. St. Lawrence Ave, a home currently owned by a real estate investment firm.
Owner Blake McCreight of BMW Properties/Express Property Solutions said he had no idea what property he was purchasing. Still, he did testify in support of the commission’s decision and is now considering his options. The interim landmark status prevents any demolition or changes to the home’s exterior. As the proposal goes continues to be solidified, but plans for the property are still up in the air.
The murder of 14-year-old Till by racists in Mississippi catalyzed the civil rights movement. Till’s cousin, Rev. Wheeler Parker, 81, who accompanied the youth on that fateful trip down South wrote in support of the landmark status to commissioners.
“I am grateful for the efforts to preserve the memory of my cousin Emmett Till. He speaks from the grave. Sixty-five years ago, he was brutally murdered, and no one has paid for it," Parker said. "Justice can have many faces, and preserving the home of Emmett Till is a face of justice. He deserves to be remembered in this positive way.”
Blacks In Green founder Naomi Davis put an offer on the property just two days before McCreight acquired it, intending to turn the home into a museum and gallery space. Davis recently established the Mamie Till-Mobley Forgiveness Garden on the same block. The journey to preserve the house has been years in the making, with Till’s funeral site at Roberts Temple Church of God In Christ, it was preserved in 2006, nearly 14 years before his childhood home was even considered by the city.
The murderers of Till were acquitted during the trial, later confessing to the crime in the Jan. 24, 1956 issue of Look Magazine. The woman who accused Till of whistling at her, sparking the heinous lynching, admitted that she lied six decades later in an interview for the 2017 book “The Blood of Emmett Till.”
Ollie Gordon, the cousin of Till who once lived with him and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, also wrote in support of the landmark status.
“If people travel to this site, they can imagine a 14-year-old boy playing and enjoying life. Emmett Till’s legacy will always be visible, and his spirit can be felt when visiting this place," Gordon said. "This home represents a tangible piece of important American history, and it is important to keep Emmett Till’s and Mamie Till-Mobley’s story alive through this place.”
Photo Courtesy of Associated Press/Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times