Lynching almost a federal hate crime as Senate passes bill unanimously

A bill that would make lynching a federal hate crime has passed the Senate unanimously and is now heading to the office of President Joe Biden, who said he plans to sign the legislation soon.

The Emmett Till Antilynching Act swept through the Senate on Monday night without even needing a roll call vote, marking a watershed moment for civil rights legislation in the United States. The law had already passed the House of Representatives last month by a 422-3 margin, with three House GOP members, Congressmen Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Chip Roy of Texas, voting against The law project.

The law will change the current US code to specifically identify lynching – extrajudicial executions often associated with the Jim Crow era – as a hate crime. The legislation is named after Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black child from Chicago who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 after allegedly whistling a white woman.

Till’s death is often credited as one of the catalysts for the civil rights movement.

The fight to make lynching a federal hate crime now rests solely on the shoulders of President Joe Biden, who said he would sign the Emmett Till anti-lynching bill into law after the legislation passed the Senate during a unanimous vote on Monday. The bill had already passed the House with just three members, all Republicans, voting against it.

Monday’s vote marks the end of a long journey for Till’s namesake bill.

Originally introduced in the House in January 2019 by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), the law was notably debated in the summer of 2020 during a time of heightened racial tensions following the murder of George Floyd. With some backlash from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), the law stalled in the Senate in its original state.

A revamped iteration of the bill was then introduced by Rush in January 2021 following the swearing in of the new Congress, which would eventually be the legislation that would eventually pass both houses.

The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Senators Cory Booker (DN.J.), Tim Scott (RS.C.) and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), who are currently the only three black senators.

Anti-lynching law Emmett Till is now heading to the Oval Office, where Biden has said he plans to quickly sign the bill into law.

Many politicians weighed in on the Senate’s decision, with many expressing hope that the bill’s passage would mark a new beginning for civil rights legislation.

“The Senate just unanimously passed my Emmett Till #AntilynchingAct,” tweeted Rush, who introduced both versions of the bill. “Despite over 200 attempts to ban this heinous form of racial terror at the federal level, it has never been done before. Next stop, the office of @POTUS!”

Rush also told reporters on Capitol Hill that the bill “sends a clear and emphatic message that our nation will no longer ignore this shameful chapter in our history and that the full force of the United States federal government will always be brought to bear against those who commit this heinous act.”

“After more than 200 failed attempts to ban lynching, Congress is finally taking the long-awaited action by passing the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y. ) after the bill is passed. “The first anti-lynching legislation was introduced a century ago, and after so long, the Senate has finally addressed one of the most shameful elements of this nation’s past by making lynching a federal crime.”

Schumer later tweeted, “This is a big step, but the fact that it’s taken so long is a stain on America.”

Booker expressed a similar sentiment, tweeting that he was “pleased with the Senate’s passage of the Emmett Till Antilynching Act.”

“The time is over to heed this dark chapter in our history and I am proud of the bipartisan support to pass this important bill,” Booker said.

The exact date the bill was signed has not been revealed, but Biden is expected to put pen to paper this week.

Newsweek contacted the White House for comment.


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