House Votes To Solve Civil Rights Cold Cases

Photo by Elijah Mears on Unsplash

On Monday (November 14), the House passed legislation that extends the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board tenure from four to seven years.

The Board was initially introduced in 2018 by then-Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) as part of the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act.

In 2019, the Act was signed into law, but then-President Donald Trump never named nominees to the Board.

The 2018 Act allows citizens to request that cases from the Civil Rights era be declassified; Monday’s legislation — the Civil Rights Cold Case Investigations Support Act — enables the board to continue its work reviewing unsolved cases from the Civil Rights era.

Rush also introduced Monday’s legislation alongside Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.).

On the House side, Rush was supported by Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), and Don Bacon (R-Neb.).

In the Senate, Ossoff and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) offered a bill.

Rush has been a long-time advocate for Civil Rights, with his involvement in the movement dating back to the 1960s when he co-founded the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party.

In a statement released on Monday following the passage of the bill, Rush lamented the “far too many unsolved crimes from the Civil Rights era” and explained that “critical information” contained in Federal case files could bring “grieving families and communities… one step closer to receiving closure.”

In a separate statement, Ossoff relayed that the bipartisan bill “demonstrated” the nation’s commitment to “truth and justice for those who were “lynched, abducted, beaten, killed, and assaulted” during the South’s segregation and Civil Rights Movement.