WASHINGTON DC – Today, February 27, Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Representative Katherine Clark (MA-5) joined the U.S. House of Representatives in passing the Emmet Till Antilynching Act, a bill that would designate lynching as a hate crime under federal law.
“Lynching is a despicable form of racial violence that should have been outlawed by the federal government centuries ago,” said Congresswoman Clark. “We owe it to Till family and every family and community torn apart by lynching to ensure that those who commit racially-motivated crimes are held accountable for their actions. By passing this bill, our country takes a necessary step in coming to terms with our legacy of injustice towards individuals and communities of color.”
“This bill is long overdue, with countless lives lost to this vigilante violence that still scars our soul as a nation,” said Reverend Anthony Lloyd of the Greater Framingham Community Church. “ This is another step in the right direction to heal our society and help ensure we never go back to the days of mob rule again. For the untold lives of individuals and families that did not have a voice for themselves, we now give voice to them in the march towards justice for all.”
The Emmett Till Antilynching Act is named after a 14-year-old African American teenager who was lynched by three white supremacists in Mississippi in 1955.
His killers were never brought to justice. After his body was discovered, Emmett’s mother Mamie Till Mobley held an open casket funeral for her son to raise public awareness about lynching in the United States and encourage people across the country to fight for justice and equality. Approximately 50,000 people attended Emmett’s funeral in Chicago.
According to the NAACP, over 4,700 lynchings took place in the United States during the late 19th and 20th centuries.
Nearly 75 percent of these victims were black. Congress has unsuccessfully attempted to pass anti-lynching legislation over 200 times in the last 120 years.
Of all the lynchings that were committed after 1900, only one percent of all perpetrators were convicted of murder.