Killen's trial is the latest of several high-profile cases aimed
at righting past wrongs committed in the United States in the
decades leading up to and during the Civil Rights Movement.
In 1994 a Mississippi jury convicted Byron de la Beckwith for
the 1963 assassination of NAACP official Medgar Evers.
In 2002, Thomas Blanton and Bobby Frank Cherry were convicted
of murder for a 1963 Birmingham, Ala., church bombing that killed
four black Sunday school students Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair,
Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley. The killings inspired race
riots in Birmingham.
recently, on June 1, authorities exhumed the body of Emmett Till,
a 14-year-old Chicago boy who was beaten and murdered for allegedly
whistling at a white woman in Money, Miss. Mississippi authorities
performed an autopsy on Till's body in the hopes of opening an
investigation into the murder. Results are still pending.
"The fact that the white South wants to pursue these [decades-old]
cases indicates that many people want to get right on the racial
question and repent for the history that these miscarriages of
justice have represented," Harry Watson, director of the
Center for the Study of the American South at the University of
North Carolina Chapel Hill told The Christian Science Monitor.
"As a result, they are feeling an immense burden lifted off
Congress recently joined in the atonement effort. On June 13,
the Senate issued a formal apology for its failure to pass legislation
making lynching, or mob killings, a federal crime.
Though many criticized the move for falling short of apologizing
for slavery, many saw the apology as an end to an era of hate
crimes overlooked by the U.S. government.