U.S. Senate passes anti-lynching bill  

The Emmett Till Antilynching Act of 2022 passed Monday night by unanimous consent, and it now heads to the president's desk.

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The United States Senate passed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act of 2022 on Monday night by unanimous consent, and it will now head to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature. 

The bill, which makes lynching a federal hate crime, passed the House of Representatives last week 422-3, with all but three Republican Congress members — Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Chip Roy of Texas and Andrew S. Clyde of Georgia — voting for it. 

A plaque marks the gravesite of Emmett Till at Burr Oak Cemetery in Aslip, Illinois. The Emmett Till Antilynching Act of 2022 passed Monday night by unanimous consent. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

As previously reported, the Emmett Till Antilynching Act was introduced by Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush in 2019.

Senators Cory Booker and Tim Scott were co-sponsors of the Senate legislation, along with Sen. Rand Paul, per NPR; Paul had previously opposed a prior version of the bill. In a statement after the passage, he wrote, “I’m pleased to have worked with Senators Cory Booker and Tim Scott to strengthen the language of this bill, which will ensure that federal law will define lynching as the absolutely heinous crime that it is. I’m glad to cosponsor this bipartisan effort and I applaud the Senate for quickly passing this important legislation.”

The bill “establishes a new criminal civil rights violation for lynching. Specifically, a person who conspires to commit certain civil rights offenses (e.g., a hate crime act) is subject to criminal penalties.” 

According to CNN, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made remarks from the Senate floor after the bill passed, saying, “After more than 200 failed attempts to outlaw lynching, Congress is finally succeeding in taking the long-overdue action by passing the Emmett Till Antilynching Act. Hallelujah. It’s long overdue.” 

“The first anti-lynching legislation was introduced a century ago,” he continued, “and after so long, the Senate has now finally addressed one of the most shameful elements of this nation’s past by making lynching a federal crime.” 

Schumer said the bill is “an important step forward as we continue the work of confronting our nation’s past in pursuit of a brighter and more just future.” 

The legislation was named in honor of 14-year-old Chicago resident Till, who was brutally murdered in Money, Mississippi, in 1955 while visiting family. The teenager’s killing, after allegedly whistling at a white woman, drew national attention and has been called the spark for America’s civil rights movement. 

Rep. Rush represents the Chicago district where Till and his family once lived.

“By passing my Emmett Till Antilynching Act,” Rush said last week, “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,” NBC News reported.

After the bill passed, Scott tweeted: ”Tonight the Senate passed my anti-lynching legislation, taking a necessary and long-overdue step toward a more unified and just America. After working on this issue for years, I am glad to have partnered with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to finally get this done.”

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