After more than 200 failed attempts at passing anti-lynching legislation, the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act was unanimously passed Monday night.
The bill, which finally designates lynching as a federal hate crime, is headed to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.
“While this will not erase the horrific injustices to which tens of thousands of African Americans have been subjected over the generations, nor fully heal the terror inflicted on countless others, it 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,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor, according to ABC News.
In a 422-3 vote, the House approved the bill last month, after being blocked in 2020 by GOP Sen. Rand Paul. The senator supported the bill this time, saying, “I’m pleased to have worked with Senators Cory Booker and Tim Scott to strengthen the final product & 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 maximum prison sentence under the Anti-Lynching Act is 30 years.
The bill is named after Emmett Till, a Black teenager who was brutally beaten and killed in Mississippi in 1955 after being accused of offending a white woman. His death and his mother’s decision to hold an open-casket funeral, to show her son’s terrible injuries, became a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights era.
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