The nonprofit Blacks in Green (BIG) will plant 36 trees this week along South St. Lawrence Avenue, the street that connects Emmett Till’s childhood home to the garden named in his mother’s honor, the Mamie Till-Mobley Forgiveness Garden. BIG, which bought the West Woodlawn home last year, is turning it into a museum that tells the story of the Great Migration of millions of Black people from the rural South to northern cities, as seen through the eyes of the Till-Mobley family.
Blacks in Green will maintain the trees and run a horticultural training program for members of the community. The 10-foot trees, valued at nearly $20,000, were donated by Related Midwest, Chicago’s leading real estate developer, which is committed to bettering neighborhoods and championing local sustainability efforts across the city.
“Related is proud to support Blacks in Green and their efforts to improve West Woodlawn and communities across Chicago,”said Don Biernacki, Executive Vice President at Related Midwest. “This donation will further BIG’s mission of sustainability, while beautifying a historic location that is significant to us all. The Emmett Till House Museum will bring Chicagoans and visitors of all walks of life to experience West Woodlawn and our collective history.”
Blacks in Green secured historic landmark status for the Till-Mobley home early this year and plans to open it as a museum in the spring of 2024, having previously purchased the public garden. The tree planting project is part of BIG’s Sustainable Square Mile initiative which is focused on creating local living and tourism economies, first on the South Side of Chicago and then across the nation, that balance environment, economics, and equity. BIG envisions self-sustaining Black communities everywhere addressing the local effects of climate change, where community members can walk to work, walk to shop, walk to learn, and walk to play.
The new trees represent a major milestone for the creation of the Emmett Till House Museum and BIG’s overall community revitalization work. To mark this milestone, BIG will hold a community celebration from noon to 3pm on Sunday, October 31 at the Emmett Till House Museum at 6427 S. St. Lawrence Ave.