Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ
National Trust for Historic Preservation
African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund
Preservation Futures worked with the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in its work to preserve, protect and interpret the sites associated with the legacy of Emmett Till and Mamie Till Mobley in Mississippi and Chicago. This includes Chicago’s Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ, for which Preservation Futures prepared a Statement of National Significance for submittal to the National Park Service.
The Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ (the building) is located at 4021 South State Street in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, in the Bronzeville neighborhood of the city’s South Side. The building holds national significance as the location of the four-day-long visitation and funeral of Emmett Till, a black teenager from Chicago who was lynched in August 1955 while visiting relatives in Mississippi. The visitation and funeral at Roberts Temple, occurring September 3rd through September 6th, 1955, was the crest of the coverage of the lynching in national media, with hundreds of thousands of mourners visiting the building in person to view Emmett Till’s body, and countless more viewing the images in print.
During the visitation and funeral the building was the site of numerous reflections and speeches by public figures on the topic of civil rights for Black Americans. The visitation and funeral was covered extensively in Chicago but also by national media outlets, eventually reaching a worldwide audience. Images of Emmett’s body lying in state within the sanctuary surrounded by dense masses of people, many of whom were captured expressing deep grief and sorrow, were published in newspapers and magazines across the country. Television cameras recorded the same moments and broadcast them in newsreels across the country.