Four Little Girls: Why We Must Remember September 15, 1963

It happened on a Sunday in September while children attended Sunday school.  As the children finished their lessons, they were heading upstairs to hear the scheduled sermon that day, “A Love that Forgives.”  But at 10:22 a.m., on Sept.  15, 1963, a bomb ripped through the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.  The bomb was planted by the Ku Klux Klan in a heinous act of opposition to racial equality, equal rights and full participation by African Americans in U.S. society.  Killed in the blast that morning were 11-year-old Denise McNair, and 14-year-olds Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson.  Many others were injured and the damage, both physical and spiritual, reached far beyond Alabama.

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NAACP Adopts CCJI/Ga State Chapter Resolution on Emmett Till Act Enforcement: Resolution Adopted at NAACP National Convention June 16, 2013

Vote on resolution at NAACP national convention July 16

Orlando, FL – On July 16, during its annual national convention in Orlando, the NAACP adopted a resolution in which the Cold Case Justice Initiative (CCJI) at Syracuse University (SU) played a substantial role in drafting. The Georgia NAACP chapter submitted the resolution which was approved by the resolution committee of the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization prior to the convention.

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Cold Case Justice Initiative at Syracuse University Hands Over 196 New Names of Potential Victims in Civil Rights Era Killings to Department of Justice

Potential cases identified in 10 states and District of Columbia

The Directors of the Cold Case Justice Initiative at Syracuse University today hand-delivered to Justice Department officials a list of 196 additional names of suspicious civil rights era killings.  The FBI has been working from a previous list of 122 different names, a list never meant to be a complete accounting of suspected atrocities.

“Ever since Congress enacted the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Act of 2008 we have been asking the FBI and the Justice Department to undertake a thorough search of all of the suspicious deaths that occurred during this time frame,” stated Professor Janis McDonald, one of the co-directors of the Initiative. “There has never been a full accounting of all of the people who were killed as the result of Klan and other racial hatred and violence during the era.”

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Unbroken Thread of Racial Violence Cannot Continue

Recent tragedies have revealed the enduring nature of racial violence in the U.S. and the call for justice to account for the families’ losses. The Cold Case Justice Initiative (CCJI) at Syracuse University knows about the imperative to answer that call. The CCJI works with many families to uncover old evidence of racially-motivated killings from the civil rights era and advocate with them for justice. We must address an alarming trend: William Allen, James Anderson, Bobby Clark, Dannaer Fields, Trayvon Martin; sons, parents, daughters. This is not a list of old cases but rather a group of blacks who, in less than one year, have all been killed and where, to some degree, race has played a factor in their brutal deaths.

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The 47th Annual Mississippi Civil Rights Martyrs Memorial Service, Conference and Caravan

June 18th & 19th 2011 Justice For All Mississippi Civil Rights Martyrs!

Compared to the number of murders committed in Mississippi and the number of murderers involved, investigations and prosecutions have been a token few.

You are invited to attend the 47th Annual Mississippi Civil Rights Martyrs Memorial Service and Conference at the Old Longdale Community Center. We shall remember and honor James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and all Mississippi Civil Rights Martyrs.

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CCJI Co-Sponsors the Program Celebrating Justice Thurgood Marshall

Announcement of Program

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Grant Auditorium, SU College of Law

The program, The Equal Justice:  Celebrating the Life & Legacy of Justice Thurgood Marshall, will be held on Saturday, April 16, 2011, at 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, in Grant Auditorium, at Syracuse University College of Law.  The program was originally scheduled for February 25th; however, it was cancelled on that date due to a snow storm.  We invite members of the campus and larger Syracuse area communities to join us at the rescheduled event on April 16th.

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CCJI joins with the Syracuse University Black Law Students Association, the Office of Multicultural Affairs and other campus departments to pay tribute to Justice Thurgood Marshall. The program, “The Equal Justice: Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Justice Thurgood Marshall,” will be held on Friday, February 25, 2011, from 5:30-8:30 pm, in Grant Auditorium at SU College of Law. The program is free and open to the public.

Justice Thurgood Marshall was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967, where he served in a long and distinguished capacity until 1991. Prior to joining the Supreme Court, Justice Marshall was a skillful and passionate advocate for civil rights, principally as Director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He was known as “Mr. Civil Rights” throughout the African American community and in American society broadly for his work in dismantling Jim Crow racial segregationist systems in voting rights, education, criminal law, public accommodations and other areas in American society. As a member of the Supreme Court, Justice Marshall’s jurisprudence recognized the constitutional rights and individual liberties for all people.

There is a stellar group of participants for this program from Syracuse University, and other local and national colleges and universities to explore the depth and breadth of Justice Marshall’s legacy. Our keynote speaker for the program is Professor Sheryll Cashin, of Law at Georgetown University Law Center, in Washington, DC. Professor Cashin was law clerk to Justice Marshall in 1990-91. She teaches Constitutional Law and Race and American Law, among other subjects. She writes about race and inequality in America. Professor Cashin was born and raised in Huntsville, Alabama, where her parents were political activists. Her recent book, “The Agitator’s Daughter: A Memoir of Four Generations of One Extraordinary African-American Family” (Public Affairs 2008) traces the arc of American race relations through generations of her family. Her book, “The Failures of Integration” (Public Affairs 2004) was an Editors’ Choice in the New York Times Book Review. Both of Professor Cashin’s books were nominated for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for non-fiction in 2005 and 2009. Professor Cashin will have a book signing in the Grant Auditorium atrium prior to the program at 4:00-5:15 pm.

Other panelists include Prof. Herbert Ruffin, Syracuse University Dept. of African American Studies; Dean Charlotte Johnson, Colgate University; Prof. Craig Jackson, Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Texas Southern University; Prof. Jenny Rivera, CUNY School of Law & American University Law School; Prof. Sanjay Chhablani, SU College of Law; Prof. Janis McDonald, SU College of Law; Judge Vanessa Bogan, Syracuse City Court; Larry Pinkney, Author and Community Activist; Prof. Theodore Shaw, Columbia University School of Law; and BLSA President Erica Laster.

We invite the SUCOL community and the Syracuse area community at-large to attend this important event. It will be an excellent opportunity to hear a rich array of scholars and activists commemorate Justice Marshall’s life and legacy.

Breaking News Frank Morris Murder Investigation

Cold Case Justice Initiative at Syracuse University provides documents leading to identification of key suspect in 1964 racially motivated killing

Syracuse, NY – The Cold Case Justice Initiative (CCJI) at Syracuse University’s College of Law can now identify a new suspect in the 1964 racially motivated killing of Frank Morris in Ferriday, Louisiana. Arthur Leonard Spencer has been named in an article written by investigative reporter Stanley Nelson, who writes for the Concordia Sentinel, Ferriday’s local newspaper. In an interview with Nelson, family members revealed that Spencer, a Rayville, Louisiana resident, admitted that he participated with O. C. Poissot, now deceased, and others in the December 10th Klan sponsored arson that killed Mr. Morris in 1964.

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