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Award-Winning Civil Rights Documentarian Teams up With Southern University Law Center to Celebrate New Civil Rights Cold Case Project

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Civil rights documentarian and TV host, Keith Beauchamp teams up with Southern University Law Center for a three-day event of film screenings and panel discussions on civil rights cold case murders, February 27-29.

Baton Rouge native Keith Beauchamp is returning to the capital city for the film festival highlighting several cold case investigations that were reopened as a result of the FBI’s Cold Case Initiative. Beauchamp’s award-winning and Emmy-nominated film, “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till,” prompted the United States Justice Department, to reopen the case nearly 50-years later. Since his production of “Untold,” Beauchamp has worked closely with the FBI and their Civil Rights Cold Case Initiatives, producing documentaries on unsolved civil rights murders and aiding Federal agents in their investigations to bring living perpetrators to justice.

“I’m truly excited to team up with Southern University Law Center for this very important cause and effort to right the wrongs of yesterday,” Beauchamp says. “Our generation must do all we can to solve these murders to help give closure to the families and to a nation still troubled with its dark civil rights past.”

SULC Interim Chancellor John K. Pierre said, “It is appropriate to have the film festival and cold case projects at SULC because the Law Center has been a bastion of civil rights for 70 years and was created to address the issues presented in the films that are going to be viewed.”

In celebration of its new Cold Case Unit, SULC is partnering up with LSU and BRCC, bringing this film festival to all parts of the city, free to the public. “This event marks the first time the three schools formally collaborated on a project. That this is a project that focuses on cold case civil rights-era homicides makes it even more special,” says James Shelledy, Cold Case Project Coordinator at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication. “There can never be enough cooperation, enough schools, enough documentaries, enough attention, enough publicity focused on these shocking crimes.”

In February 2006, inspired by the reopening of the Emmett Till Case in 2004, the FBI enacted the Civil Rights Cold Case initiative to identify hate crimes that occurred prior to December 1969, and resulted in death. The Bureau’s 56 field offices were asked to reexamine these unsolved civil rights cases and determine which ones could still be viable for prosecution. As such, the FBI has partnered with a number of state and local authorities, civic organizations, and community leaders to reexamine old cases. Since the initiative began, the FBI has received over 100 such referrals. The FBI is continuing to assess each referral for its investigative and legal viability and, given the updated investigative and forensic tools, move forward in investigating these cases.

In 2008, President George Bush signed the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act into law. The new legislation, named after Emmett Louis Till who was murdered in Money, Mississippi, in 1955, empowered the FBI to re-open murder cases that happened during the civil rights movement.

List of screenings and locations:

Saturday, February 27, at noon in 129-130 A. A. Lenoir Hall, SULC

Day 1 festival kicks off at SULC with a screening of the Emmett Till documentary, followed by a short panel.

Sunday, February 28, 2-4 p.m., Holiday Forum of the LSU Manship Journalism Building

Day 2 screening of the two open Louisiana cold cases of Wharlest Jackson and O’Neal Moore, followed by an interactive panel.

Monday, February 29, 5-7 p.m., Baton Rouge Community College (BRCC) Magnolia Theater, Magnolia Pavilion

Day 3 showing of the two open cold cases of Carol Jenkins and Louis Allen.

For more details about the Film Festival, contact Ada Goodly, National Lawyers Guild, SULC Chapter President, (225) 939-6076, tgoodly@sulc.edu.