By unanimous consent, Congress gave final approval on Monday, March 7, 2022 to legislation that, for the first time in US history, would make lynching a federal hate crime. Years in the making, the bill is now being sent for President Joe Biden to sign into law.
The bill is named for Emmett Till, an African American teenager who was brutally killed in 1955 in Mississippi. His mother’s insistence on an open casket funeral showed the world what had been done to her child. This cry for racial justice became a pivotal moment for the Civil Rights era.
“After more than 200 failed attempts to outlaw lynching, Congress is finally succeeding in taking a long overdue action by passing the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
In 2020 the House overwhelming approved a similar measure but it was blocked in the Senate. Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who held up popular bipartisan anti-lynching legislation in the Senate, recently announced that he now supports and has signed on as a co-sponsor of a new version of the bill. Paul argued that in 2020 he wanted it “to be stronger.”
The updated version of the legislation, known as the Emmett Till Antilynching Act of 2022, was introduced by Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey. The Senate bill is identical to companion legislation introduced by Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois.