The murder of a 14-year-old African-American boy named Emmett Till still anger and transcends how America views justice and racism in America til this day. With many of our brothers and sisters slain and receiving no justice has always been a struggle the black community is not unfortunately used to, but President Barack Obama is taking the steps to put an end to the madness.
Though like in Till’s case, the white men who were arrested for the murder were acquitted by an all-white jury. The POTUS has signed a bill that would give the FBI the chance to reopen more cold cases from the Civil Rights Era.
The legislation, titled the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes bill, was initially introduced by activist Alvin Sykes in 2005. He named the proposed bill after Till because he vowed to his mother, Mamie Elizabeth Till-Mobley, he would fight to reopen the case. The Department of Justice did reopen the case in 2004; it was closed three years later after a jury decided not to indict Carolyn Bryant, the woman who accused Till of whistling at her. Two years after the case was reopened, the FBI started to look into over 100 civil rights cases. In 2008, the bill was placed into law.
The upgraded legislation, which President Obama signed on December 16, will now get rid of the limitations on cases that occurred prior to 1970 and will allow ongoing investigations conducted by the FBI surrounding civil rights cases. This will create an avenue for cases that occurred during the height of the Jim Crow Era to be reopened. Under the revised bill, dubbed Till Bill 2, groups including Emory University’s Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project and the Cold Case Justice Initiative at Syracuse University would receive funding to help solve civil rights cases.
This new bill is set to finally bring justice to families who have been let down by the criminal justice system. Over the past 27 years, the reopening of civil rights cold cases has resulted in 24 convictions. Byron De La Beckwith, who was responsible for killing civil rights activist Medgar Evers in 1963, was the first to be convicted of his crime once the case was reopened.