Civil rights advocates are pushing for the extension and expansion of the Emmett Till Act, which is intended to resolve civil rights era cold cases. The act is named for a black Chicago teen killed in 1955 in Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white woman.
The act will soon expire after resulting in just one conviction.
The six year old law is intended to provide funding and investigative power to solve the hundreds of crimes, in Mississippi and nationwide, that were left unresolved during the civil rights era.
It is set to expire in 2017.
Civil rights historian William Seraile says congress needs to extend the law because many crimes in Mississippi continue to go unpunished.
"Even if it wasn't murder. If it was just like firebombing and property destruction, if you can follow up on those than it is saying that we are diligent. And at least Mississippi can say that we are not the old Mississippi. We are the new progressive Mississippi. And I think that is important too," Seraile said.
Advocates for the renewal say a lack of funding and a provision in the law that limits investigations only to crimes before 1969 have stymied its effectiveness.
That cut off means the 1970 shooting of Jackson State University students by police cannot be re-investigated.
Dr. Ivory Phillips of Jackson state says that is one reason the law should be expanded to include a wider time frame
"Yes, I think it should include all of those cases. Not just the early ones but the later ones as well. For me it is frustrating and I think it should be persude. I think there is some kind of way to get it done," Phillips said.
The law has only resulted in one conviction....a former Alabama trooper who pleaded guilty four years ago to a shooting during a protest in 1965.