A statue of black teenager Emmett Till, whose lynching in 1955 sparked civil rights protests in the United States, is unveiled in a Mississippi city with a Confederate monument.

The 14-year-old was kidnapped from his great-uncle’s home in the city of Money, Mississippiafter allegedly whistling at a white woman in a country shop.

He was then beaten and shot.

His body, which had been dumped into the Tallahatchie River and weighed down by a heavy fan, was discovered three days later.

Emmett’s mutilated body has been returned Chicago where his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, insisted on a public funeral service with an open casket so the world could see the horrors inflicted on her son.

After years of work by community officials, a 9-foot-tall bronze statue of the teenager is unveiled on Friday in Greenwood, about 10 miles from the remains of the country shop.

Located in the community’s Rail Spike Park, a short drive from an elaborate Confederate monument outside the Leflore County Courthouse, the statue depicts the likeness of the living Emmett. He is sculpted wearing trousers, shirt and tie, with one hand on the brim of his hat.

“We just thank God that someone is keeping his name out there,” said Reverend Wheeler Parker Jr., the last living witness to his cousin’s kidnapping.

Democratic State Senator David Jordan of Greenwood secured $ 150,000 in state funding for the project and the Greenwood community, whose population is over 70% black, commissioned Utah artist Matt Glenn to create it.

The Confederate memorial outside Greenwood courthouse. Image: AP

No one has ever been convicted of Emmett’s lynching, despite multiple investigations by the US federal government, which reopened the case recently in 2018. The investigation was closed in 2021 without any charges being issued.

Mr. Jordan said he hopes the statue will encourage tourists to visit Greenwood and learn more about its history: “We hope it will unite us all.”

The Emmett up to the anti-lynching law was approved by Congress in 2020, making lynching a federal hate crime.

Lynching is defined as the killing of a person by a group for an alleged crime without a legal process, often but not always by hanging.

A film titled Till, which depicts the boy’s brutal murder and his family’s quest for justice, is due out in January 2023.

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