Society

Obama Renews Bill To Pursue Civil Rights Cases

| by Oren Peleg

More than 61 years after his death, the unsolved civil rights-era case of Emmett Till may be seeing new light. President Barack Obama signed the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes bill on Dec. 16, enabling the FBI to reopen unsolved cases from before 1970.

The original Emmett Till bill was signed in 2008, notes The Huffington Post. It granted $10 million a year to the FBI to investigate cold cases from the civil rights era. The bill was set to expire in 2016, but was renewed by Congress and the president's signature.

Till was a 14-year-old African-American from Mississippi who was lynched by two white men in 1955 after he allegedly flirted with a white woman, reports News One. After the murder and ensuing controversy, the two men accused of Till’s murder were acquitted of all charges by an all-white jury. They later admitted they had killed Till.

"When this bill was signed into law, family members, academics, historians, lawyers, advocates began working to develop a full accounting for these long-standing, gross human and civil rights atrocities,” Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia and a former civil rights leader, said at the bill’s renewal, notes USA Today. “The reauthorization passed by Congress is a response to their appeals to make the law a better tool in their quest for justice.”

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“As we work to address current questions about racial violence and civil rights, we should be mindful of our history and why so many in the African-American community raise the issue of whether black lives matter,” Rep. John Conyers Jr., a Democrat from Michigan, the founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and the House’s longest serving member, said. “Passage of the original Emmett Till Act represented a commitment to resolving the unanswered questions from one of the darkest periods in modern American history.”

Sources: News One, USA Today, The Huffington Post / Photo credit: U.S. Embassy London/Flickr

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