Emmett Till HBO Miniseries To Be Produced By Jay Z & Will Smith
Emmett Till HBO Miniseries To Be Produced By Jay Z & Will Smith

Update: Obama Signs Emmett Till Bill To Reopen More Civil Rights Cold Cases

Emmett Till HBO Miniseries To Be Produced By Jay Z & Will Smith

Update:President Obama has signed the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes bill on Friday. See the original article below. 

This past Tuesday Congress signed legislation that would give the FBI the ability to pursue more civil rights cold cases.

Titled the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes bill, if the law gets passed by President Obama then the FBI could expand its investigations from cold cases before 1970, to those that have also occurred before 1980. Activist Alvin Sykes chose the name because he had promised Till's mother he would pursue the case.

This "Till Bill 2," as it is nicknamed, is an updated version of the Till Bill that became law in 2008. The Till Bill came about after the FBI began to investigate more than 100 civil rights cold cases in 2006.

"When this bill was signed into law, family members, academics, historians, lawyers, advocates began working to develop a full accounting for these long-standing, gross human and civil rights atrocities," U.S. Representative John Lewis, said Tuesday. "The reauthorization passed by Congress is a response to their appeals to make the law a better tool in their quest for justice."

According to USA Today, since 1989 authorities across the U.S. have reopened and prosecuted civil rights cold cases, resulting in 24 convictions. One of the first ones was Byron De La Beckwith, who was convicted of assassinating Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers in 1963. Beckwith received a life sentence in prison, where he died.

In 2004, Till's case was reopened and closed three years later, when a majority black Mississippi jury decided not to indict Carolyn Bryant (she reportedly identified Till to her husband Roy, one of the killers who was acquitted and later confessed).

In other Emmett Till related news, Jay Z and Will Smith will be producing a miniseries on the child that was a victim of racial violence, for HBO. The untitled project is currently in development, and will be based on the book Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked The World And Propelled The Civil Rights Movement by Devery Anderson.