WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressmen Steny H. Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Kweisi Mfume, Anthony G. Brown, Jamie Raskin and David Trone (all D-Md.) recognized the award of $300,000 in federal funding for the Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Commission will use the funds to study unsolved lynchings in Maryland for a project entitled “Justice in the Aftermath: Documenting the Truth of Racial Terror Lynching in Maryland to Support Restorative Justice Among Affected Communities.” It will also investigate government and media involvement in the lynchings, and solicit public input on how to restore justice to victims’ families and communities.
“To address past injustices, we must fully understand them and acknowledge their lasting impact. This new federal funding will help the Commission to dedicate more resources to study unsolved lynchings throughout Maryland. These brutal acts of racial violence – which have been downplayed and outright ignored for much of our nation’s history – must be brought to light. We can only deliver real justice and healing for Maryland’s Black communities, and our society writ large, if we directly confront our history of systemic racism and racially motivated hate crimes,” said the lawmakers.
The funds come from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Emmett Till Cold Case Investigations Program, which provides support to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to prosecute cold case murders associated with civil rights violations. The delegation members have consistently supported robust funding for the program, which was created in 2016 after Congress passed the bipartisan Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act. The law directs the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation to reopen and prosecute unsolved murders related to civil rights violations. Additionally, the lawmakers support the bipartisan Emmitt Till Antilynching Act, which was passed near-unanimously by the House of Representatives in February, as well as the Senate version of the bill.