A long and overdue piece of legislation passed through the House on Wednesday, formally classifying lynching as a federal hate crime.
The bill is named in honor of the 14-year-old black teenager who was brutally murdered by a white mob in Mississippi in 1955. Emmett Till’s uneventful death was one of the watershed moments marking the beginning of the civil rights movement.
The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), making it a full circle moment as Till was from Rush’s district in Chicago, Illinois.
“Today, we send a strong message that violence — and race-based violence, in particular — has no place in America,” Rush said in a statement.
Wednesday’s passing marks the first successful attempt of an anti-lyinching bill to pas through Congress since 1900. In 2018 the Senate passed legislation making lynching a federal hate crime, but it did not pass through the lower chamber.
The House approved the Emmett Till Antilynching Act 410 to 4, and while the passing of the bill is imperative, it’s quite important to note the four representatives who voted against the bill:
Independent Rep. Justin Amash (MI) and GOP Reps. Louie Gohmert (TX), Thomas Massie (KY) and Ted Yoho (FL).
“Today the House will pass the Emmett Till Antilynching Act and designate lynching as a hate crime under federal law. But we must admit, it is a travesty that it has taken 120 years for the U.S. government to address this crime. In fact, the first bill to outlaw lynching was introduced in 1900. Make no mistake, lynching is terrorism,” Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said on the floor ahead of the vote.
The new legislation is expected to pass in the Senate by the end of the week and then will have to be signed by the president in the White House.
Lynchings in America were used as a deadly and destructive tool by the Klu Klux Klan and upholders of white supremacy to terrorize Black citizens and marginalized communities.
From 1882-1968, 4,743 lynchings occurred in the U.S., with 3,446 involving victims who were black, according to the NAACP.
“Lynchings were horrendous, racist acts of violence,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA.), one of the sponsors of the Senate bill, said in a statement. “For far too long Congress has failed to take a moral stand and pass a bill to finally make lynching a federal crime. … This justice is long overdue.”
This article was originally posted on MadameNoire.com.