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.
<p>While Till's brutal murder shocked the country, racially charged murders were all too common then. Between <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2015/02/10/even-more-black-people-were-lynched-in-the-u-s-than-previously-thought-study-finds/?utm_term=.51281d441e9d" target="_blank">1877 and 1950, there were almost 4,000 cases of lynching of African-Americans</a>, 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. </p><p><strong>But with the help of new legislation, some of these families may finally see justice served. </strong></p><h2>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. </h2><p>Hundreds of racially-motivated cold case murders may be investigated with fresh eyes thanks to the <a href="https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/2854" target="_blank">Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act of 2016</a>. </p><p>The new bill indefinitely extends <a href="https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/110/hr923/text" target="_blank">a 2007 law</a> 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.</p><div><div class="push-wrapper--mobile" data-card="image" data-reactroot=""><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTUyNTA3Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNzE1OTk5OX0.UUDg8OrrYv4HdOdu5Jh6UMPZMaqMfBUqu4OID7zoeU4/img.jpg?width=980" id="097a5" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0b8fc6a3f9907cad15b968681f5f7c50" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"><div class="image-caption"><p>President Barack Obama speaks during a conversation on community policing and criminal justice in Washington, D.C. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images. </p></div></div></div><p>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, <a href="http://coldcases.org/" target="_blank">nonprofit groups</a>, 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. </p><p><strong>Since 2005, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/obama-signs-emmett-till-bill-to-reopen-unsolved-civil-rights-cases_us_586296a1e4b0de3a08f62474" target="_blank">the FBI has investigated more than 100 cold cases,</a> and this reauthorization will finally give jurisdictions the resources they need to successfully investigate these crimes. </strong></p><h2>In a powerful example of bipartisanship, the bill was also sponsored by legislators on <em>both</em> sides of the aisle. </h2><p>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.</p><p>“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,” <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/12/13/emmett-till-bill-could-pave-way-reopening-more-civil-rights-cold-cases/95400784/" target="_blank">Rep. John Conyers Jr. said to USA Today</a>. “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.”</p><div><div class="push-wrapper--mobile" data-card="image" data-reactroot=""><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTUyNTA3Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MjMzOTQwOH0.kAm2Zcs6rDpbZKa8mzR_LRBVCITprZDlEDls80-yQKA/img.jpg?width=980" id="31a1a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9301a5a0c3ddf27ca335d14be7840574" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"><div class="image-caption"><p>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. </p></div></div></div><h2>The reauthorization of the Emmett Till Bill is a small, but important, step toward racial equality. </h2><p>It's clear r<a href="http://www.joincampaignzero.org/problem/" target="_blank">ace-based violence,</a> 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. </p><p>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. </p><div><div class="push-wrapper--mobile" data-card="image" data-reactroot=""><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTUyNTA3OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMjIzNzA4OX0.kVOVKXiIQsuPk6ypR97GGx_us1uR_4oMoOKTSlhoMCo/img.jpg?width=980" id="9855d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="294dc4313bec3361568d0bed011e3485" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"><div class="image-caption"><p>Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images. </p></div></div></div>
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