CHICAGO, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Nearly half a century ago, African-Americans were outraged and then politically mobilized by the brutal slaying of a 14-year-old black youth by Mississippi racists.
In the summer of 1955, the tortured body of Emmett Till was found in the Tallahatchie River three days after he allegedly whistled at a white woman during a visit to his uncle's family in the rural hamlet of Money, Miss.
An all-white jury acquitted Roy Bryant, a white shopkeeper, of Till's torture, shooting and lynching though he later confessed to the crime in a Look magazine interview.
His mother, Mamie Mobley Till, a public school teacher, allowed the barely recognizable remains of her savagely beaten son to be viewed in a glass-topped casket by tens of thousands of mourners at a South Side Church capturing the attention of the entire nation.
"She was a huge figure in American history," said the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. "When Rosa Parks refused to give her seat to a white man on a segregated Montgomery (Ala.) bus, she said she thought about Emmett Till."
Mobley, who suffered from kidney disease, remained active in the civil rights movement until her death Monday at 81. She testified at hearings on reparations for descendants of African-American slaves that led the Chicago City Council to pass a resolution supporting congressional hearings on the issue.
"The Lord has used me to open up the civil rights movement and now he's using me to push for reparations," Mobley told the Chicago Defender, the nation's largest black-owned daily newspaper in an interview before her death.
"I'll never give up seeking justice for my son's death. I will have to work on that until the day I die."