Air Date: Weds. April 1, 2009
Time: 8PM C/9PM E/6PM P
Music Video: Emmett Till By Vigalantee
Topic 1~Meet Alvin Sykes: Civil Rights Cold Case Justice Crusader
Alvin Sykes’ Victory Is A Win For Us All
The Kansas City Star
Oct. 08, 2008
On Tuesday, President Bush signed H.R. 923 without fanfare.
With the stroke of the president’s pen, the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act became law.
The law adds to the growing legend of Alvin Sykes, who was able to achieve what crafty lawyers and influential Washington lobbyists find almost impossible: He persuaded the House and the Senate to agree on something.
Watching Congress vote last week on the Wall Street bailout illustrated just how hard that is to accomplish that these days.
The legislation , known as the Till Bill, essentially will fund investigations of unsolved homicides from 1970 on back.
Sykes not only came up with the idea for the Till Bill, he also helped craft the legislation. The law creates two positions, a special supervisory agent over the civil rights unit of the FBI and a deputy chief of the criminal section of the civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department, who will investigate the unsolved cases. The bill also authorizes up to $135 million over 10 years for investigations.
Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, put a hold on the legislation for 15 months, but the persuasive Sykes eventually persuaded Coburn to lead the charge for its passage.
In the end, Coburn wasn’t pleased that the Senate’s Democratic majority wouldn’t cut other priorities within the federal budget to pay for the bill. But not even those concerns could dull Coburn’s glowing praise for Sykes.
“I can’t say enough about his stamina, his integrity, his forthrightness, his determination,” Coburn said of Sykes. “So I come to the floor of the Senate to sing his praises and to recognize him publicly for his tremendous efforts.”
The Till Bill is named after Emmett Till, an African-American teenager from Chicago who was beaten and killed Aug. 28, 1955, after he allegedly whistled at a white woman in Mississippi. An all-white jury acquitted Roy Bryant and J.W. Milan, who eventually admitted their involvement to Look magazine.
Now that the Till Bill is law, it will create what Sykes calls the greatest criminal manhunt in this country’s history.
“We’re hopefully going to find these perpetrators and have them held criminally accountable for their deeds that were done so long ago that they thought they had gotten away with it,” Sykes said.
Sykes is a bit disappointed that the president didn’t hold a signing ceremony for the bill at the White House.
“We wanted it to be at the White House, so Emmett Till’s family could benefit,” Sykes said. “However, we’re going to do our celebrating of the bill in the courtrooms across America when the cases are prosecuted. We’re already celebrating by striking fear into the hearts of those old men who thought they got away with these crimes.”
Sykes’ work inspired a local rapper, Roger Suggs, to create a song called “Emmett Till.” The song can be accessed at www.myspace.com/vigalantee.
“I decided to do it in hip-hop form,” Suggs said. “There are many young people who don’t even know about Emmett Till. I hope it makes people run back to the library to learn more about him.”
Sykes is an example of a regular guy who has done some remarkable things. He doesn’t have a juris doctorate, a high school diploma or even a GED. However, his victories in the courtroom and now in Congress rival those of many savvy lawyers and statesmen.
Sykes can be pushy and a bit of a gadfly sometimes. No one can deny his effectiveness. He’s never let his education limit his dreams or his goals.
As a result, Sykes will forever be associated with an important piece of civil rights legislation that passed Congress with unanimous consent. With partisan politics ruling the day, that can’t be minimized or diminished in any way.
To reach Steve Penn, call 816-234-4417 or send e-mail to email@example.com.
© 2009 Kansas City Star and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved. http://www.kansascity.com
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Topic 2: *W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio Exclusive* I-Witness History: Interview With Dr. Hugh Stephen Whitaker Part Two of Two
Two years after receiving his Master's degree, he wrote his doctoral
dissertation, “A New Day: The Effects of Negro Enfranchisement in Selected Mississippi Counties” (all of which were in the Mississippi Delta), also submitted to Florida State University. He taught at Temple University, the University of Southern California, and Florida State University. Formerly married to Aide Steele of Tutwiler, he has two daughters, Linda and Heather, and two grandchildren. He is happily married to Penny Young since 2005.
Listen To Part One In The Second Hour Of W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio's The Shame Of A Nation...The Emmett Till Legacy:
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W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio Special: The Shame Of A Nation...The Emmett Till Legacy
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