On Friday, a 9-foot-tall bronze statue of the teenager was unveiled in Rail Spike Park in Greenwood, Mississippi, NPR reports.
The statue shows Till dressed in slacks, a dress shirt and a tie. One of his hands rests on the brim of his hat, creating an image that’s parallel to those out there of the teen.
The ceremony paying homage to Till saw many attendees wiping away tears and applauding as the statue was revealed. It’s an incredible moment for the community — the statue’s location is close to where Till was kidnapped and slain for allegedly whistling at a white woman in a store.
“Wake Up Everybody,” an R&B song by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, played as a tarp was pulled off the statue. People couldn’t help but get a closer look at the piece of art, and many snapped pictures and videos of the historic moment.
“Change has come, and it will continue to happen,” Leflore County High School senior Madison Harper said during the dedication, NPR reports. “Decades ago, our parents and grandparents could not envision that a moment like today would transpire.”
One attendee, Anna-Maria Webster, couldn’t stop the tears from streaming down her face.
“It’s beautiful to be here,” she said, according to NPR.
Webster added that she can’t imagine what Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, went through.
During the time of Till’s murder, there weren’t any Black elected officials in office. His death helped changed that. And now, while there’s only one Black member in Mississippi’s current congressional delegation — Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson — this monument shows the Southern state may be heading in the right direction.
“But you, know, change has a way of becoming slower and slower,” Thompson said, as reported by The Vicksburg Post. “What we have to do in dedicating this monument to Emmett Till is recommit ourselves to the spirit of making a difference in our community.”