Commemorating Emmett Till
Our Work

US Designates New Civil Rights Monuments, Result of Latham Efforts

July 26, 2023
Pro bono team has been at the forefront of earning federal recognition for key historic sites related to Emmett Till.
On July 25, 2023, President Joseph Biden designated a new national monument to commemorate Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Black boy whose killing in the Mississippi Delta in 1955 helped spark the modern civil rights movement. Led by partner Nikki Buffa and associate Peter Viola, Latham has been at the forefront of efforts for federal recognition and permanent preservation of historic sites related to Till and his mother, Mamie Till Mobley. 

Despite the significance of Till’s murder and subsequent open-casket funeral in Chicago, many key sites are at risk of disappearing. Since 2018, our lawyers have been working with the Emmett Till Interpretive Center (ETIC) and its partners, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Parks Conservation Association, and members of the Till family, to advocate for federal recognition and permanent preservation of these historic sites in the National Parks System. Biden’s announcement marks a major milestone in Latham’s work. 

In particular, we have advised ETIC throughout its National Parks campaign, and have helped ETIC and its partners to coordinate with the US Department of the Interior to commemorate and protect these historic places. We also helped ETIC and its partners to work with US Senator Tammy Duckworth to introduce bipartisan legislation designating Roberts Temple a National Historic Site, and assisted with efforts to transfer the courthouse where Till’s murderers were tried to a nonprofit historic preservation organization to ensure its permanent protection as a museum and a major civil rights landmark.

The newly announced monument will feature three sites in two states, and will ensure that future generations continue to learn from this important chapter of civil rights history.