More than 78 years after his death, the family of the civil rights champion the NAACP called its “first martyr” remains hopeful to finally have closure for his murder.
Haywood County DA Garry Brown in Tennessee reopened an investigation into Elbert Williams’ June 1940 slaying, the Associated Press reported Wednesday (Aug. 8).
“We cannot do all in 2018 that should have been done in 1940, but justice and historic truth demand that questions about the cause of Elbert Williams’ death, and the identity of his killer(s), that should have been answered long ago, be answered now if possible,” Brown said.
Williams, 32, was part of a group registering Black voters in rural Tennessee. White men, led by police Officer Tip Hunter, abducted Williams from his home after they caught wind that he planned to host an NAACP meeting at his residence. Three days later, Williams’ body was found with three bullet holes in the Hatchie River.
Local investigators failed to charge anyone for the slaying, and the Department of Justice suddenly decided to close the case in 1942 after it ordered a federal grand jury hearing. The federal government turned its back on the case even though Thurgood Marshall, then a special counsel to the NAACP, gathered evidence.
Fast forward to 2017, when federal authorities declined to reopen the case at the request of Williams’ relatives and attorney Jim Emison, who believes after doing tons of research that a few witnesses or perpetrators could still be alive. The DOJ cited the age of the case and expiration of the statute of limitations for a federal crime.
Tennessee, however, has no time limit on first-degree murder charges. What’s more, the case comes under the state’s new Civil Rights Crimes Cold Case Law, which mandates an examination of unsolved civil rights crimes.
Thurgood Marshall Was Confirmed As The First Black Supreme Court Justice On This Date In History
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"The measure of a country's greatness is its ability to retain compassion in times of crisis."— Rick Byun (@ByUner) July 2, 2018
~Thurgood Marshall, US Supreme Court Justice (2 Jul 1908-1993)
True for people too. #quote #compassion #nations #crisis #HappyCanadaDay2018
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In honor of #BlackHistoryMonth, I want to share some of the Black men and women who blazed trails in the justice system and are personal heroes of mine. Thurgood Marshall was the first Black US Supreme Court Justice, and I read this quote when I was inaugurated. —KF pic.twitter.com/6kgRwmMoNo— State’s Attorney Kim Foxx (@SAKimFoxx) February 1, 2018
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6. "This is a great country, but fortunately for you, it is not perfect. There is much to be done to bring about complete equality. Remove hunger. Bring reality closer to theory and democratic principles."Source:Getty 6 of 10
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9. "A child born to a Black mother in a state like Mississippi... has exactly the same rights as a white baby born to the wealthiest person in the United States. It's not true, but I challenge anyone to say it is not a goal worth working for."Source:Getty 9 of 10
Prosecutor Reopens Investigation Into Death Of ‘First NAACP Martyr’ was originally published on newsone.com