HISTORY OF OUR PROJECT
Argo Community High School is honoring the life and work of Distinguished Alumni Mamie Till-Mobley by commissioning a life-sized bronze sculpture and establishing a scholarship. Mamie Till-Mobley was the first Black student to make the A Honor Roll and only the fourth Black student to graduate from Argo Community High School. Following her child Emmett’s racially-motivated murder in 1955, Mamie bravely fought for justice for her son while pursuing a degree in education. A tireless social justice advocate, Mamie worked with children in and out of the classroom until her death in 2003 at the age of 81.
Mamie Till-Mobley’s legacy is well-known at Argo Community High School. As our project unfolds, her story has regained momentum alongside increased national attention focused on the fight for social justice, civil rights, and equity. In January of 2022, she was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal – the highest civilian honor that Congress can bestow. New television and film projects focus on her life. Also, it is our hope that Argo High’s Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Memorial sculpture becomes part of a National Park that includes Till historical sites spanning from Chicago to Mississippi.
We believe that the path we are marching to implement our project can serve as a roadmap for others in Chicago and beyond to activate lessons of equity and social justice locally through history, art, and community engagement. The Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Memorial and Scholarship recognize a critical figure in the civil rights movement, while deeply honoring her part in our community and our school. It will serve as a catalyst for the immediate and continued education of students at Argo Community High School as well as members of the Argo-Summit community. Mamie Till-Mobley represents a bridge for Argonauts between the past, the present, and the future of civil rights in our community, city, and the nation.
Argo has commissioned local sculptor, activist, and educator Sonja Henderson to create the monument, working closely with the school, its students, and the community. She is known for her community-based art, social justice advocacy, and work with survivors of violence. Look to the MLK Living Memorial in Marquette Park for an example of her work – this was the first monument in Chicago devoted to the 1965 fair housing marches led by Martin Luther King, Jr. Ms. Henderson's work on this project is informed by conversations with the Till family and community members, including Emmett Till’s cousin Reverend Wheeler Parker and his wife Dr. Marvel Parker, and Till's cousin Ollie Gordon.
The school and Argo students are actively involved in this process, as we learn, reach out, apply the lessons of Mamie Till-Mobley’s legacy, and add content to the archives. We are all becoming part of a rich history as we use this experience to advance the causes of civil rights, social justice, and equity in today’s world.
Students are documenting of the stories of living Till family members and community elders who knew the Tills
Students are documenting the events surrounding the process of creating this historic memorial
Under the guidance of art teacher Alexa Edwards, students are creating drawings and prints of Mamie Till-Mobley to connect the Till story with current social justice movements
Our music department has commissioned an orchestral piece to be performed by students at the unveiling in the spring of 2023
Throughout 2022 and 2023, Argo is holding a series of all-school assemblies celebrating the lives of Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till, and presenting first-hand accounts from living historical figures such as Reverend Parker
The Argo Higher Education Foundation has created The Mamie Till-Mobley Memorial Scholarship Fund for future Argo graduates that are committed to creating meaningful change in the world. This year we awarded the first $2,500 scholarship to an Argo graduate.