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Airickca Gordon-Taylor (2020), charity leader & Emmett Till’s cousin

by Linnea Crowther

Airickca Gordon-Taylor was the cousin of Emmett Till, whose 1955 murder helped spark the Civil Rights Movement. Gordon-Taylor was the founder and executive director of the Mamie Till Mobley Memorial Foundation, named in honor of Till’s mother and providing education, enrichment, and empowerment to young people.

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Died: March 21, 2020 (Who else died on March 21?)

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Details of death: Died at the age of 50.


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Civil rights work: Gordon-Taylor worked to educate a new generation and advance civil rights in memory of her cousin, Emmett Till, who was 14 years old when he was brutally murdered after whistling at a white woman while visiting relatives in Mississippi. Gordon-Taylor pursued social justice in his memory, recently advocating in Congress for the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, which passed in the House in February 2020. The act would officially make lynching a federal crime.

Notable quote: “Our children are the catalyst for the new civil rights movement. Yes, racism yet exists. The most dangerous thing is that it’s more covert now than in the ‘50s. We must redirect this prejudice into power. Let’s promote our young people and encourage them to stand for their principles. ” —from a 2012 speech

What people said about her: “Racial violence has impacts felt across generations. Listing up Airickca Gordon-Taylor, cousin of Emmett Till, who worked tirelessly to speak out against injustice and promote racial healing. Say her name. Share her story.” —Kristen Clarke, president of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

“We are devastated that our great sister Airickca Gordon-Taylor has passed away. Airickca was the cousin of Emmett Till and was the manager of Emmett’s mom’s memorial, the Mamie Till Mobley Foundation.” —Black Lives Matter Chicago

Full obituary: Chicago Tribune

Related lives:

  • Simeon Wright (1942–2017), Gordon-Taylor’s cousin who witnessed Till’s kidnapping
  • Erica Garner (1990–2017), activist for police accountability
  • Trayvon Martin (1995–2012), teen who was shot by neighborhood watch volunteer

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