House Extends Civil Rights Cold Case Board

House Extends Civil Rights Cold Case Board bobby rush wears a face mask before a house committee hearing Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill. (Michael A. McCoy/Getty Images)

By Charles Kim | Monday, 14 November 2022 10:55 PM EST

The House on Monday extended the Civil Rights Cold Case Review Board for three more years through 2027, The Hill reported.

According to the report, the panel reviews citizen records requests for the declassification of documents compiled regarding "cold cases" during the Civil Rights era, such as lynchings.

"There are far too many unsolved crimes from the Civil Rights era where there could be critical information found in Federal case files," former pastor and Civil Rights activist Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., who introduced the original 2018 legislation, said in a statement Monday. "Four years ago, my bill requiring that those files be made public was signed into law. The passage of my bill today means the law will be implemented as Congress intended and grieving families and communities are now one step closer to receiving closure on what happened decades ago."

The board was created in the 2019 as part of the bipartisan Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act of 2018, which was signed into law by former President Donald Trump, although he never nominated anyone to serve on the board.

Four people were confirmed to the board by the Senate in February to determine which records from the Civil rights era, between 1940-79, can be made public, and which might be delayed, Courthouse News Service reported in April.

At the time, the appointments to the board were confirmed in February, National Archives and Records Administration Chief Operations Officer William Bosanko said then the panel might run out of time unless it was extended past its original sunsetting in 2024.

"Absent congressional intervention and a change in the law, the board doesn't really have a fighting chance," Bosanko said in April. "They're going to need more time in order to deal with these very important and very weighty issues around these cold cases."

The current bipartisan extension bill was introduced by Rush, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., and Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., with a similar bipartisan Senate bill introduced by Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, The Hill reported.

"Today we demonstrated that the United States will never rest in the pursuit of truth and justice for those who were lynched, abducted, beaten, killed, and assaulted in the segregation era South and during the Civil Rights Movement," Ossoff said in a statement to The Hill.

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