The U.S House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation that would make lynching a federal hate crime, moving to formally outlaw a brutal act that has become a symbol of the failure by Congress and the country to reckon with the history of racial violence in America, reported the Washington Post.
Passage of the anti-lynching bill, named in honor of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Black teenager brutally tortured and murdered in Mississippi in 1955, came after more than a century of failed attempts. Lawmakers estimated they had tried more than 200 times to pass a measure to explicitly criminalize a type of attack that has long terrorized Black Americans. This bill was approved 422 to 3, and was expected to pass the Senate, where it enjoys broad support.
“The House today has sent a resounding message that our nation is finally reckoning with one of the darkest and most horrific periods of our history, and that we are morally and legally committed to changing course,” said Representative Bobby L. Rush, Democrat of Illinois, who had vowed to see the legislation become law before retiring at the end of his term.
In a statement, Mr. Rush, who was a civil-rights leader and founded the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, recalled when, as an 8-year-old boy, he first saw a photograph of Emmett’s battered body, an image that he said “shaped my consciousness as a Black man in America, changed the course of my life, and changed our nation.”
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