Mamie Till-Mobley was born in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. Shortly after she was born, her family moved from the Mississippi Delta to Summit, Illinois—just outside of Chicago. They were part of what has later become known as the Great Migration—the decades-long mass movement of millions of Black Americans from the Jim Crow South to the urban Northeast, Midwest, and West. Emmett was born in Chicago in 1941.
Family members recall Emmett as a happy child. He helped around the house. He liked jokes. And he liked playing jokes on other people. In their free time, he would play baseball with his cousins.
Emmett Till was just a regular kid.
When he was 14 years old, Emmett joined his cousin, Wheeler Parker, on a trip to the Mississippi Delta to stay with Mamie’s Uncle Moses Wright. Before he boarded the train, Mamie warned her son that Mississippi and Chicago were two different worlds, and that he should remember that things were different in the Jim Crow South. Emmett assured her that he understood.
And she hugged her son goodbye for the last time.