With a unanimous vote, the Senate on Monday passed The Emmett Till Antilynching Act, which makes lynching a federal hate crime.
The bill is named in honor of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Black teenager who was brutally tortured and murdered in Mississippi in 1955, after a white woman falsely claimed he propositioned her. Lynchings have been used to instill fear in Black and Mexican-American communities, and Congress attempted to pass anti-lynching legislation more than 200 times prior to Monday, with efforts going back to the early 1900s.
The measure was introducing in the House by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) and in the Senate by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.); it now heads to President Biden's desk for his signature. In a statement, Rush said lynching is "a long-standing and uniquely American weapon of racial terror that has for decades been used to maintain the white hierarchy. Perpetrators of lynching got away with murder time and time again — in most cases, they were never even brought to trial. ... Today, we correct this historic and abhorrent injustice."
Between 1882 and 1968, more than 4,000 people, most of them Black, were reported lynched in the United States, and 99 percent of the perpetrators went unpunished, Rush's office said.