WASHINGTON, D.C. – Assistant Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Katherine Clark (MA-5) released the following statement to mark the enactment of the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, a bill that will designate lynching as a hate crime under federal law. Assistant Speaker Clark joined the House in passing the legislation in February 2022.
“Lynching is a despicable form of racial violence that should have been outlawed by the federal government centuries ago. We owe it to the Till family and every community touched by the horrors of lynching to ensure that those who commit this heinous crime are punished to the fullest extent of the law. By finally making lynching a federal hate crime, we are taking an essential step in addressing our long history of racism and violence against Black Americans and moving us closer to justice,” said Congresswoman Clark.
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 antilynching 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.