President Obama Reauthorizes Emmett Till Act To Reopen Unsolved Civil Rights Cases
Joe Raedle

President Obama is continuing to make major moves on the legislation front as he approaches his final weeks in office.

Fresh off a massive pardoning of 231 people that brought his total number of clemency acts to 1,324, POTUS has reauthorized the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Bill.

First introduced in 2005 by activist Alvin Sykes and later signed into law in 2008, the bill was established as part of Sykes’ vow to Till’s mother to continue seeking justice for her son’s racially-motivated murder. The original bill ultimately led the FBI to reopen more than 100 other unsolved civil rights cases.

Under the amended version of the bill, which President Obama officially signed into law on December 16, previous limitations on reopening civil rights cases that occurred before 1970 will be removed and ongoing investigations into surrounding civil rights cases will be permitted. 

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Because language in the updated version of legislation will provide for the reopening of many cases that were established at the peak of the Jim Crow era, many politicians and activists believe it will allow for even more civil rights cold cases to be revisited and solved.  

The extremely crucial bill was named after 14-year-old Black teen Emmett Till, who was brutally murdered by two White men in Mississippi after he allegedly flirted with a White woman.

The men responsible for the horrendous killing were set free by an all-White jury and later described how they murdered Till in a revealing magazine interview published two months after the trial ended. The jury’s failure to convict the two men sparked a nationwide movement calling for reform with regard to the role racism plays in the deeply flawed American criminal justice system.