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Senators Back Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Bill After House Passage

Key U.S. senators hope that a bill making lynching a federal crime eventually will become federal law after the House approved such a measure, reports The bill was named for Emmett Till, a 14-year old boy lynched in 1955. It would classify lynching as a crime under existing federal hate crime statues. The House version, sponsored by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), passed overwhelmingly, 422-3, on Monday. The Senate bill was introduced by Sen. Cary Booker (D-NJ), and the chamber’s only Black Republican, Tim Scott of South Carolina. The only other Black U.S. senator, Raphael Warnock of Georgia, signed on as a co-sponsor Tuesday, as did U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who blocked the measure from becoming law in 2020.

“Used by white supremacists to oppress and subjugate Black communities, lynching is a form of racialized violence that has permeated much of our nation’s past and must now be reckoned with,” Booker said. “Although this bill will not undo the terror and fear of the past, it’s a necessary step that our nation must take to move forward.” Paul said, “Strengthening the language of this bill has been my goal all along, and I’m pleased to have worked with Senators Cory Booker and Tim Scott to get this right and ensure the language of this bill defines lynching as the absolutely heinous crime that it is." The Senate unanimously passed anti-lynching legislation in 2019, but the House approved a different version and named it for Till, who was abducted and murdered for allegedly looking the wrong way at a white woman while visiting Mississippi in 1955. According to the NAACP, 3,446 Blacks were lynched from 1882 to 1968.


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