Sixty-five years ago, in 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till was brutally beaten and lynched in Mississippi, during a summer visit from Chicago, for allegedly whistling at a White woman. On February 26, Congress passed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act (H.R. 35). The purpose of the bill is to make lynching a Federal crime so that we can “heal past and present racial injustice … so our Nation can begin reconciliation.”

Representative Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), who introduced the bill in January 2019, said in a statement, “Today, we send a strong message that violence—and race-based violence, in particular—has no place in America,” ABC News reported. 

The bill lays out a loose historical timeline of lynchings in the country, stating that the Tuskegee Institute, which recorded lynchings from 1892, confirmed there were 3,445 Black victims that had been reported by 1968. With this new law, anyone who commits a lynching “shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life, fined under this title, or both,” according to the bill.

Following the passage of the act, many members in Congress expressed why the bill is long overdue. “This form of terrorism was used to kill Black people and terrorize and terrify those into understanding they were not considered humans,” Representative Karen Bass, (D-Calif.), said at a press conference, according to ABC.

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