President Biden names nominees for board to overview Civil Rights period ‘chilly instances’

The panel could handle cases like the three Mississippi civil rights activists – James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner – who were killed by the Ku Klux Klan in June 1964.

Fourteen years ago, the Southern Poverty Law Center sent the FBI and the Department of Justice a list of 74 cold cases involving African Americans allegedly murdered by whites under racially motivated circumstances between 1952 and 1968.

Most of the crimes occurred in Mississippi, which comprised nearly half of the 74 cases. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee made up the rest.

Everything went cold and the victims’ families never got justice.

Today a new avenue to justice has opened up to crack these cold cases.

On June 11, President Joe Biden announced the first nominees for the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board.

The panel would have the power to release government records and subpoena new testimony that could reopen the cases and publicly reveal why many racially motivated lynchings and black killings have never been adequately investigated.

“The White House hopes the Senate will be quick [confirm] these candidates, “said an administrator for the National Newspaper Publishers Association. “The board was founded in 2019 with almost unanimous support from both parties.”

President Biden’s nominations include:

Clayborne Carson spent most of his professional life studying Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Dr. Dedicated to King inspired movements. Since graduating from UCLA in 1975, Dr. Carson at Stanford University as Martin Luther King Jr. Centennial Professor of History (retired).

Gabrielle M. Dudley is an Instruction Archivist in the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript Archives and Rare Book Library at Emory University. In this role, she works with faculties and other faculty to develop courses and archive research assignments for undergraduate and graduate students.

Hank Klibanoff is a veteran journalist who won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for History for his book covering the civil rights struggle in the South. Klibanoff is the creator and host of Buried Truths, a storytelling podcast produced by WABE (NPR) in Atlanta.

Margaret Burnhamhas was a state judge (appointed by Governor Michael Dukakis, 1977), civil rights attorney and human rights commissioner. Burnham is a graduate of Tougaloo College, Jackson, Mississippi, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and has been on the faculty of Northeastern University since 2002, her significant work in the social sciences and humanities.

The panel could handle cases like the three Mississippi civil rights activists (James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner) who were killed by the Ku Klux Klan in June 1964.

Two months later, the activists’ bodies were riddled with bullets, burned and buried in a dam in Neshoba County.

The “Mississippi Burning” case has remained largely unsolved and largely unpunished.

In 2005, Edgar Ray Killen was sentenced to 60 years in prison for three counts of manslaughter, but authorities closed the case and put an end to hopes of prosecution.

In Lowndes County, Alabama, there is the case of 18-year-old Rogers Hamilton. On a busy night in October 1957, two white men arrived at Rogers’ house, called him outside, and put him in a truck.

His mother, Beatrice Hamilton, followed the truck down a dusty road and watched in horror as they pulled Rogers out of the vehicle and shot him in the head.

When she notified the sheriff, he told her she had not seen what she “believed she was seeing” and closed the case.

“Nobody cared about it except his extended family, now scattered from Chicago to New York,” wrote John Fleming, editor at the Center for Sustainable Journalism, in a 2011 column. “The case remains open, although the reality is that this case will never be pursued.

“Though the family wants justice, even if it means the local prosecutor must indict a dead MP, they care about the story of someone who has died long ago [man] in distant Alabama they finally found out. “

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