A story of civil rights-era cold cases and families still searching for justice.

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What prompted the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate over 150 unsolved civil rights-era killings? And what does justice look like for the families of the victims?

From award-winning reporter and podcast host James Edwards (16 Shots and South Side Stories), the series explores the government’s efforts to grapple with America’s racist legacy through the Till Act — interweaving Edwards’ personal story as he reflects on his family’s experience with racist violence.

Original music by Jon Evans and Matthias Bossi of Stellwagen Symphonette — featuring Jason Palmer on the trumpet, and Consuelo Candelaria on the piano.

Series Trailer

Introducing: Un(re)solved

June 1, 2021

What prompted the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate over 150 unsolved civil rights-era killings? And what does justice look like for the families of the victims?

Episode Details
Episode 1

The List

June 11, 2021

In 1955, a boy from Chicago was murdered in rural Mississippi. Who his killers were was an open secret — but none were found guilty of the crime. More than 50 years later, spurred by the work of activists and reporters, a bill named for the boy would wind up in the halls of Congress. It was aimed at bringing justice to unsolved killings from the civil rights era. Around the same time, the Department of Justice and the FBI launched an initiative tasked with investigating these types of crimes. The beginning of this effort to right wrongs in the country’s past was a moment of hope for many families. But what does justice look like in these cases, decades after the crimes?

Episode Details
Episode 2

The Letters

June 18, 2021

As part of its Cold Case Initiative, the DOJ compiled a list of cases to look into. As of 2008, Mississippi — where Emmett Till was murdered — had the largest number of cases. James meets Walter Henry, a Black FBI agent who worked in a field office there and was tasked with investigating many of these crimes. One name from the list, a Black serviceman who was killed by a white police officer in 1962 following an altercation at a bus station, offers some insight into how civil rights era killings were handled. The man’s son recollects how his family carried with them the trauma of his father’s death and how the FBI’s re-examination of the case still impacts them today.

Episode Details
Episode 3

The Success

June 25, 2021

There has been just one successful prosecution since the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act was signed into law in 2008. In Alabama, a district attorney investigated and charged a state trooper in the 1965 killing of a man during a civil rights march. But whether this case was a success is complicated. James digs into that case, and follows the money to try to understand whether funds the Till Act was supposed to provide were ever granted. And would an attempt to extend the Till Act beyond its 2017 sunset date offer a chance for lawmakers and the DOJ to address criticisms?

Episode Details
Episode 4

The Hope

July 9, 2021

Fifty-five years before the death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, the killing of another Black woman, Alberta O. Jones, sent shock and grief through that city’s Black community. In 1965, Jones, a trailblazing attorney in Louisville, was found dead, floating in the Ohio River — the victim of a murder that’s still unsolved today. Thirty-four-year-old Jones was the city’s first female prosecutor, and a charismatic fixture in the Black community, helping educate and register people to vote. Despite multiple investigations over nearly 60 years, there are no official motives or suspects in her killing. In 2018, her case was added to the federal government’s cold case list and is one of the few that remains open. In episode 4, James explores what an open case on the list looks like through the life and death of Alberta Jones — and talks to the person who never gave up fighting for answers.

Episode Details
Episode 5

The Future

July 16, 2021

What does the FBI have to say about the outcomes of the Till Act so far — and what does the future of work under the Cold Case Initiative look like? James talks with the FBI’s Civil Rights unit chief. Then he digs deeper into what U.S. Representative John Lewis, who championed the Till Act, really wanted — and weighs what moving forward looks like for the families with loved ones on the list.

Episode Details

Support for Un(re)solved provided by PBS; the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the Abrams Foundation; the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation; The WNET Group’s Chasing the Dream, a public media initiative that examines poverty, justice, and economic opportunity in America, with major funding by The JPB Foundation and additional funding from The Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney Fund; the GBH Catalyst Fund; the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation; the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund; the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center; The Barbra Streisand Foundation; and Unity Software, Inc. through its Unity Charitable Fund, a fund of the Tides Foundation. Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by the Ford Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Abrams Foundation; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Park Foundation; and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation.