“The Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act,” designating lynching as a federal hate crime, was passed by the House on Monday and is now on its way to the Senate to possibly be signed into law.
The historic bill was approved on the last day of Black History Month and 65 years after Till, a 14-year-old Black boy from Chicago, was murdered in a brutal lynching in Mississippi in 1955.
Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush, who authored the House bill, said its passage marked “a day of enormous consequence for our nation.”
“I was eight years old when my mother put the photograph of Emmett Till’s brutalized body that ran in Jet magazine on our living room coffee table, pointed to it, and said, ‘This is why I brought my boys out of Albany, Georgia,'” Rush said. “That photograph shaped my consciousness as a Black man in America, changed the course of my life, and changed our nation.”
This is not the first time the lynching bill was introduced; according to the Washington Post, passage of the bill failed nearly 200 times. In 2020, GOP Sen. Rand Paul blocked the bill from passing, worried it would “conflate lesser crimes with lynching.”
According to ABC News, the senator now supports the bill, saying in a statement, “I’m pleased to have worked with Senators Cory Booker and Tim Scott to strengthen the final product and ensure the language of this bill defines lynching as the absolutely heinous crime that it is, and I’m glad to cosponsor this bipartisan effort.”
The bill passed in a 422-3 House vote, with Republican leaders Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, and Chip Roy of Texas all on the opposing side.
If signed into law, the hate crime is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
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