During the heart of the Civil Rights Movement hundreds, if not thousands, of mostly black men were murdered. Most of these cases remain unsolved, miscarriages of justice denied by local authorities and courts despite FBI investigation at the time. Forty years later, in 2007, Congressman John Lewis led the passage of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act of 2007, authorizing the FBI to reopen 126 so called Civil Rights era ”cold cases.” To date only one case has gone to trial, one to a grand jury and nearly all of the others have been closed despite new evidence. Time is running out. American Reckoning investigates the FBI's failures under the Emmett Till Act, and tells the story of one surviving family — Wharlest Jackson Sr., a Natchez, Mississippi NAACP treasurer whose murder by the klan in 1967 left behind three children who want answers in their lifetimes.
Brad Lichtenstein is president of Milwaukee-based 371 Productions, a media company creating projects for the common good. His recent film, As Goes Janesville, about Paul Ryan’s hometime trying to recover from the demise of General Motors and survive amid a war over unions, was nominated for an Emmy and premiered on PBS’s Independent Lens series in 2012. Penelope, about a nursing home and theater troupe teaming up to perform Homer’s Odyssey, aired across the nation on PBS in 2015. His film Ghosts of Attica was awarded a Dupont-Columbia Award for Excellence in Journalism. Upcoming films include The Last Jews of America, about small Jewish communities on the verge of extinction, When Claude Got Shot, about gun violence, and American Reckoning, about unsolved Civil Rights era murders. 371 is producing a 2-year weekly radio series, Precious Lives, about youth and gun violence. The company is also planning updates to BizVizz, its corporate accountability mobile app.
Staten Island, NY
Vernon Reid is a Grammy award-winning guitarist, composer and visual artist. In the 1980s, he led the pioneering multi-platinum rock band Living Colour, and since then has collaborated with Carlos Santana, Public Enemy, Defunkt and the African singer Salif Keita, as well as with choreographers Bill T. Jones and Donald Byrd. Reid is also the founder of the Black Rock Coalition, which helps combat the pigeonholing of African American musicians. Outside of music, his work includes the educational media project, Artificial Afrika, and his photography was featured as part of the Brooklyn Museum of Art exhibit, Committed to the Image: Contemporary Black Photographers.