U.S. Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC) recently applauded the House of Representatives for passing the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act, legislation that would make lynching a federal crime for the first time in the history of the United States. The Emmett Till Antilynching Act was introduced in the House by Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-IL).
Harris, along with her colleagues, Booker and Scott, led the Senate passage of anti-lynching legislation in 2018, marking the first time in American history that federal anti-lynching legislation had been passed by the Senate.The legislation passed the Senate again last year. After passing the House, their bill will now head to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
“Lynchings were racially motivated acts of violence and terror that represent a dark and despicable chapter of our nation’s history,” said Harris. “They were acts against people who should have received justice, but did not. With this bill, we are able to change that by explicitly criminalizing lynching under federal law. I applaud Congressman Rush and the House of Representatives for speaking truth about our past and making it clear that these acts must never happen again without serious and swift consequences and accountability.”
From 1882 to 1986, Congress failed to pass anti-lynching legislation 200 times. Lynching was used as an instrument of terror and intimidation 4,084 times during the late 19th and 20th centuries, according to data from the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI).
“Today brings us one step closer to finally reconciling a dark chapter in our nation’s history,” Booker said. “Lynchings were used to terrorize, marginalize, and oppress black communities – to kill human beings in order to sow fear and keep black communities in a perpetual state of racial subjugation. If we do not reckon with this dark past, we cannot move forward. But today we are moving forward. Thanks to the leadership of Rep. Rush, the House has sent a clear, indisputable message that lynching will not be tolerated. It has brought us closer to reckoning with our nation’s history of racialized violence.”
“Last year the Senate passed this important legislation, and I am pleased the House is following suit,” said Scott. “It is important we show that hate will not win.”
“Lynching, plain and simple, is an American evil. This atrocity is comparable to the French use of the guillotine, the Roman Empire’s use of crucifixion, and the British use of drawing and quartering as a tool of terrorism. And, for too long now, federal law against lynching has remained conspicuously silent,” said Rush. “Today, we will send a strong message that violence -and race-based violence, in particular – has no place in American society. I am immensely grateful to Sens. Harris, Booker, and Scott for working with my office on this landmark piece of legislation.”