Monday, December 15, 2014

Congressman Cleaver meets with Emmett Till family

(From Missouri Fifth District Congressman Emanuel Cleaver)

I was just a small boy growing up in Texas, when I heard about the murder of another boy in Mississippi. His name was Emmett Till, he was 14-years old, and I remember how frightened I was at the time because I didn't understand what had happened. My comprehension, though, grew a hundred fold when I saw a picture of his battered and burned body. It was published in the pages of Jet magazine -- and I was changed forever.

Now, I hope to help bring attention to cases like that of Emmett Till, and so many others. To that end, this week I met with family members of Emmett, Frank Morris and the five fishermen killed in Pensacola, Florida. Congressman Bennie Thompson, from Mississippi, organized the meeting, and members of the Cold Case Justice Initiative from Syracuse University School of Law were also there. The goal is to bring awareness to the Till case, and the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Act of 2007, and to discuss ways member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and others, can work with the Department of Justice on these cases.

The Cold Case Justice Initiative has identified more than 300 unsolved civil rights cases and suspicious killings. The focus now is to have tools already in place, like the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Act, actively enforced and possibly extended.

As a young child, scared and confused by what happened to a boy in Mississippi who I'd never met, not in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be able to lend assistance to his and other families, as well as to investigations. As I grew older following the years of Emmett's death, my understanding grew deeper, along with my resolve to fight these horrific crimes, and the injustices they represent for all of us. I am proud to do just that.

(Photo- Congressman Cleaver meets with family members of Emmett Till, and others, to bring awareness to unsolved civil rights cases.)