House passes anti-lynching bill after more than 200 failed attempts 

The Emmett Till Antilynching Act, introduced by Rep. Bobby Rush in 2019, passed in the House Monday, with three Republicans voting no.

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Better late than never. After more than 200 failed attempts since 1900, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that makes lynching a federal crime in America. 

The Emmett Till Antilynching Act passed in a 422-3 vote Monday, with Republican congressmen Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Chip Roy of Texas, and Andrew S. Clyde of Georgia voting against the measure, according to NBC News

The Emmett Till Antilynching Act, which was introduced by Rep. Bobby Rush (above) in 2019, passed in the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday. Three Republican voted against it. (Photo: Michael A. McCoy/Getty Images)

The bill was introduced by Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush in 2019. Rush, who represents the Chicago district where Till and his family once lived, said that “by passing my Emmett Till Antilynching Act, the House has sent a resounding message that our nation is finally reckoning with one of the darkest and most horrific periods of our history, and that we are morally and legally committed to changing course,” according to a statement, NBC News reported.

In defending his vote against it, Massie tweeted, in part: “This bill expands current federal ‘hate crime’ laws. A crime is a crime, and all victims deserve equal justice. Adding enhanced penalties for ‘hate’ tends to endanger other liberties such as freedom of speech.”

Per CNN, Roy released a statement saying, “It simply raises the punishment for things that are already federal crimes, including those that are unrelated to lynching — such as gender identity — in an effort to advance a woke agenda under the guise of correcting racial injustice.”

Rush, the soon-retiring 75-year-old veteran legislator, noted that he was 8 years old when his 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.’”

He said the “photograph shaped my consciousness as a Black man in America, changed the course of my life, and changed our nation.”

“But modern-day lynchings,” he added, “like the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, make abundantly clear that the racist hatred and terror that fueled the lynching of Emmett Till lynching are far too prevalent in America to this day.”

In a statement released on Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi echoed Rush’s sentiment, saying that “hateful attacks are not yet a relic of the past.”

The Emmett Till Antilynching Act will proceed to the Senate, where, if it passes, it will be signed into law by President Joe Biden.

According to Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, a Democrat who is sponsoring the bill in the Senate, the Act would specify that lynching is a crime that warrants an enhanced sentence under existing federal hate crime statutes.

Per CNN, Ollie Gordon, a cousin of Till — the 14-year-old boy murdered in 1955 in Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white woman — called on the Senate to pass the act.

“I encourage the Senate to pass the bill,” said Gordon, “and for President Biden to promptly sign it into law, so that those who have lost loved ones to lynchings and other hate crimes know that bigoted violence will not be tolerated.”

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