“The Grand Boulevard church where Emmett Till’s mother showed his brutalized body to the world can make much-needed repairs thanks to a grant.
“Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ, 4021 S. State St., was one of 40 sites across the United States to receive a portion of a $3 million grant from the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, a multi-year initiative to preserve Black landmarks.
“The church, which was started in 1916, will get $150,000 to fix cracks in the foundation and water damage, said the fund’s associate director, Tiffany Tolbert.
“‘We have some cracking, some masonry work … . The grant is a good step to get a handle on those things,’ Tolbert said. ‘The funding will allow the congregation — along with local partners — to look at a broader preservation plan for the entire building.’
“The church made headlines in 1955 when Mamie Till-Mobley chose it as the site of her son’s funeral. More than 50,000 people poured into the sanctuary to pay their final respects. The grieving mother’s decision to publicize the service is considered by many to have launched the Civil Rights Movement.
“The grant is among several efforts in recent months to raise awareness about the condition of the church and safeguard it.
“The first Church of God in Christ church in the Midwest, Roberts Temple took five years to build, the last brick cemented in 1923. It’s only been renovated twice since then, and it was placed on a list of the [National Trust for Historic Preservation’s] most endangered historic places in the fall.
“In March, Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin introduced a bill in Congress to make the church a national historic site, managed by the federal government under the National Park Service.
“The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund was created in 2017 in response to the Charlottesville Confederate statue conflict. It accepts applications from organizations across the country looking for financial support to save Black cultural institutions.
“Thanks to a $20 million donation from philanthropists Mackenzie Scott and Dan Jewett, the fund has doubled in size, said Executive Director Brent Leggs. Former President George W. Bush and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation also have given to the fund, and an anonymous donation was made in honor of Ahmaud Arbery.
“‘We’re … essentially telling the full story of these sites associated with African American achievement, activism, education, culture — and that is a wide breadth of resources that haven’t received support as others in the past,’ Tolbert said. ‘With this fund, we’re able to put resources out in the communities with organizations that are passionately working to save these historic resources.’ (Nesbitt Golden, Block Club Chicago, 7/21/21)
Read the full story at Block Club Chicago
Bronzeville Church That Held Emmett Till’s Funeral Gets $150K Grant For Renovations, The $150,000 grant will help church leaders fix water damage and cracks in the foundation of a building that’s only been renovated twice in the past century, Jamie Nesbitt Golden, Block Club Chicago, 7/21/21
Bronzeville Church That Held Emmett Till’s Funeral Would Become National Historic Site Under Durbin-Duckworth Bill; Mamie Till-Mobley showed the world her son’s brutalized body at Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Bronzeville. Senators want to preserve the building by placing it in the care of the National Park Service, Maxwell Evans, Block Club Chicago, 3/18/21
Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ Building Chicago Landmark Designation Report, November 2005
Remembering Emmett Till’s Funeral As A Catalyst For Civil Rights Movement, Revered Chicago historian Timuel Black spoke with students at Roberts Temple in Bronzeville, where Till’s funeral was held, Linda Lutton, WBEZ Chicago, 7/22/19
What’s That Building: Roberts Temple Church Of God In Christ, Jason Marck, WBEZ Chicago, 1/4/18