Congress Passes Emmett Till Bill to Make Lynching a Federal Hate Crime

(Washington, D.C.) — Congress gave final approval Monday to legislation that for the first time would make lynching a federal hate crime in the U.S., sending the bill to President Joe Biden to sign into law.

The Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act, a bill that aims to ban American lynching for the last century has been in existence for years.

It is named for the Black teenager whose brutal killing in Mississippi in 1955 — and his mother’s insistence on a open funeral casket to show the world what had been done to her child — became a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights era.

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“After more than 200 failed attempts to outlaw lynching, Congress is finally succeeding in taking a long overdue action by passing the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Continue reading: Emmett Till’s Death Could Easily Have Been Forgotten. Here’s How It Became a Civil Rights Turning Point Instead

The bill would make it possible to prosecute a crime as a lynching when a conspiracy to commit a hate crime results in death or serious bodily injury, according to the bill’s champion, Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill. Under the Anti-Lynching Act’s maximum penalty is 30 years.

The House overwhelmingly approved the same measure for 2020. But, it was stopped by Senate.

The House approved the revised bill in overwhelming numbers last week and the Senate unanimously passed it late Monday.

“Lynching is a longstanding and uniquely American weapon of racial terror that has for decades been used to maintain the white hierarchy,” said Rush.

The congressman said passage of the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act “sends a clear and emphatic message that our nation will no longer ignore this shameful chapter of our history and that the full force of the U.S. federal government will always be brought to bear against those who commit this heinous act.”


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