President Barack Obama signed legislation earlier this month that allows the FBI and the Department of Justice to reopen unsolved civil rights cases. Initially titled Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes, the updated version of this bill now allows both agencies to bring to justice those who committed crimes prior to 1970.
Named after Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy from Chicago who was taken from his bed in the middle of night, beat and shot by two white men for allegedly whistling at a white woman, the Justice Department is being encouraged to reach out to “activists, advocates and academics working on these issues.”
Other departments who will aid in resolving these cases include the Cold Case Justice Initiative at Syracuse University, Northeastern University School of Law’s Civil Rights and and Restorative Justice Project, The Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project at Emory University.
Achille Messac was named dean of the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University. He will be the first African-American dean in the university’s history.
Dr. Messac has been serving as distinguished professor and chair of the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Syracuse University in New York. Previously, he taught at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, and Northeastern University in Boston.
Dr. Messac is a native of Haiti. He holds bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Richard Wamai, an assistant professor of public health in the department of African American studies at Northeastern University in Boston, received the 2012 World AIDS Day Unsung Hero Award presented by Blood: Water Mission, a Nashville-based nonprofit organization that deals with AIDS and water issues in Africa. Professor Wamai is currently part of a global research consortium seeking to identify the best way to allocate funds to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. The research is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Dr. Wamai is a graduate of Egerton University in Kenya. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in health policy from the University of Helsinki.
Karen Jackson-Weaver, associate dean for academics and diversity at Princeton University in New Jersey, received the university’s Martin Luther King Day Journey Award for fostering a supportive environment which helps students succeed. She has been on the staff at Princeton since 2007. Previously, she served as executive director of the Amistad Commission which integrated African-American history into the K-12 curriculum in New Jersey’s public schools.
Dr. Jackson-Weaver is a graduate of Princeton University, with a degree in history. She holds a master’s degree from Harvard University, as well as two additional master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in U.S. history from Columbia University.
Howard Fuller, distinguished professor of education at Marquette University, received the Martin Luther King Jr. Heritage Award from Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Professor Fuller is the founder and director of the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette. He is the former superintendent of the Milwaukee Public School system.
Dr. Fuller is a graduate of Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin. He holds a master’s degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and a doctorate in the sociological foundations of education from Marquette University.