Many are aware of the gruesome story of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Black boy from Chicago who was lynched in 1955 while visiting family in Mississippi during the height of segregation in the South.
Till’s murder was one of many that was used for decades to get lynching officially ruled as a hate crime. After a century that saw over 200 attempts to ban lynching get denied, Congress has finally enacted the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act that’s currently en route to President Joe Biden for officiation.
As reported by AP News, the Anti-Lynching Act will allow for a crime to be prosecuted as a lynching when conspiracy to commit a hate crime results in death or serious bodily injury, and it will come with a maximum sentence of 30 years. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., acted as a pioneer for the bill, stating, “Lynching is a longstanding and uniquely American weapon of racial terror that has for decades been used to maintain the white hierarchy.” He went on to add that 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.”
The House showed overwhelming approval for a similar version of the bill back in 2020, but it was blocked once it made it to the Senate. With new revisions put in place this time around, the Senate gave unanimous consent.
While it shouldn’t have taken this long to make lynching a hate crime given the sheer nature of the act, we can only be thankful that Emmett Till’s murder hasn’t been in vain.
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