The National Center for Civil and Human Rights will host a daylong conference Saturday to kick off a summer-long program to research old civil-rights-related murder cases that have never been solved in the Atlanta area.
Scott McDowell of the Cold Case Justice Initiative (CCJI), a program out of Syracuse University’s College of Law, said a team of students and researchers will be in Atlanta until mid-August, meeting with families and “researching racist killings,” to help shed light on a dark period in history when blacks were often the victims of racially motivated crimes for which no one ever faced justice.
Think Emmett Till and Moore’s Ford Bridge.
Since its inception, the CCJI has researched over 300 suspicious killings while advocating for justice. In 2008, Congress passed the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Act to bring justice and accountability to these types of cases. Till’s murder in 1955 helped spark the modern civil right’s movement, but nobody was ever convicted of killing him.
In 2012, CCJI submitted 196 cases to the Department of Justice in pursuit of further investigation. Close to 100 of those cases happened in Georgia.
“This is an opportunity to hear from and speak to families whose cases under the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Act have been closed by the DOJ as recently as two weeks ago, as well as other families who are still fighting for the government to add their loved ones to the list of victims’ cases that need to be investigated,” McDowell wrote in a release announcing Saturday’s conference.
Scheduled speakers include:
» Former state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, who has been advocating for justice for the 1946 Moore’s Ford Bridge lynching;
» Charles Steele of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference;
» Debra Watts of the Emmett Till Family Legacy Foundation;
» Civil rights attorney Mawuli Davis;
» Journalist Stanley Nelson;
» Emory University professor Hank Klibanoff;
» Martinez Sutton, brother of Rekia Boyd, who was killed by a Chicago police officer in 2012;
» Denis Jackson Ford and Wharlest Jackson Jr., whose father, Wharlest Jackson Sr., was killed in 1967 in Natchez, Miss.;
» Local activist Aurielle Marie.
The conference will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. in the museum and lecture halls of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, 100 Ivan Allen Junior Boulevard, Atlanta.