Before he leaves office, Obama is helping cold case murder victims get justice.

14-year-old Emmett Till was kidnapped, beaten, and brutally murdered by two white men after whistling at a white woman during a trip to Mississippi in 1955.

The men tried for his murder were acquitted by an all-white jury, but later confessed their crimes to a reporter but the case couldn't be re-tried.


While Till's brutal murder shocked the country, racially charged murders were all too common then. Between 1877 and 1950, there were almost 4,000 cases of lynching of African-Americans, and that's just in the Southern states. Like Till, many were beaten, shot, or tortured to death well past the mid-century. Many of the perpetrators were untried or acquitted by all-white local juries.

But with the help of new legislation, some of these families may finally see justice served.

In one of his last moves in office, President Obama signed a bill that may finally help these murder victims and their families get justice.

Hundreds of racially-motivated cold case murders may be investigated with fresh eyes thanks to the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act of 2016.

The new bill indefinitely extends a 2007 law that calls for a full review and accounting of civil rights statute violations that took place before 1980 and resulted in a death. The 2007 law was set to expire in 2017.

President Barack Obama speaks during a conversation on community policing and criminal justice in Washington, D.C. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

The law gives local police and district attorneys access to federal resources to investigate crimes that occurred before 1980, a 10-year extension on the 2007 law. Since many of these cases were picked up by civil rights groups, nonprofit groups, and universities after local jurisdictions marked them cold, the bill requires the FBI and/or the Justice Department to meet regularly with these entities to share information and keep investigators and the victim's families on the same page.

Since 2005, the FBI has investigated more than 100 cold cases, and this reauthorization will finally give jurisdictions the resources they need to successfully investigate these crimes.

In a powerful example of bipartisanship, the bill was also sponsored by legislators on both sides of the aisle.

Iconic civil rights activist John Lewis, D-Georgia, Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, and John Conyers Jr., D-Michigan, ushered the bill through the House. And Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, and Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, sponsored the bill in the Senate.

“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. said to USA Today. “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.”

Rep. John Lewis (L) and Rep. John Conyers (R) greet each other during the Congressional Black Caucus swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images.

The reauthorization of the Emmett Till Bill is a small, but important, step toward racial equality.

It's clear race-based violence, harassment, and intimidation didn't end with the civil rights movement. Protests, demonstrations, and marches continue as black Americans and their allies join together to fight for justice at every level.

To move forward, we must remember victims like Emmett Till and honor their memories by demanding equality and bringing their killers to justice once and for all.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

True

In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

1 / 12

Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

Who would have thought that giving the world access to all human knowledge via the internet, the ability to follow and hear from experts on any subject via social media, and the ability to see what's happening anywhere in the world via smartphones with cameras would result in a terrifying percentage of the population believing and spouting nothing but falsehoods day in and day out?

Those of us who value facts, reason, and rational thought have found ourselves at some of our fellow citizens and thinking, "Really? THIS is how you choose to use the greatest tool humanity has ever created? To spew unfounded conspiracy theories?"

It's a marvel, truly.

Between Coronavirus/Bill Gates/5G conspiracies and QAnon/Evil Cabal/Pedophile conspiracies, I thought we were pretty much full up on kooky for 2020. But apparently not. The massive fires up and down the West Coast have ignited even more conspiracy theories, some of which local law enforcement and even the FBI have had to debunk.

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True

In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

1 / 12

Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

I worked as a substitute teacher in my early 20s, almost exclusively in middle schools and high schools—my age of specialty. Once, I accepted a two-day subbing assignment in a first grade classroom. Only once. Halfway through the first day, as the kids ate lunch in the cafeteria, I sat at the teacher's desk in an exhausted daze. Teaching little kids was a completely different animal than teaching big kids. While adorable, they had so many needs and so little attention span. It was like herding a bunch of flies that constantly needed to go potty.

Trying to herd those flies virtually during a pandemic is too much to even fathom.

So the real-time story that mom and writer Stephanie Lucianovic shared on Twitter of what happened when her son's second grade teacher dropped from the class Zoom call was not the least bit surprising. Hilariously entertaining, but not surprising.

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Katie Neeves (L) photo by Jayne Walsh, JK Rowling (R) photo by Sjhill, CC BY-SA 3.0

Dear JK Rowling,

I am writing this letter to say a big thank you to you. You may think it strange that a gobby trans woman such as me would wish to thank you after all your recent transphobic outpourings, but let me explain…

I certainly don't thank you for your lengthy essay last month where you describe the abuse you have suffered (for which you have my sympathy) and in which you stated that you do not hate trans people, while at the same time peddling even more anti-trans mis-information. Sadly, your diatribe directly caused some trans children to self-harm and other to attempt suicide.

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