The Emmett Till Antilynching Act
Below the overwhelming noise of the campaigns and the disturbance over the coronavirus, some of us missed the House of Representative's passage of the Emmett Till Antilynching Act. Now all that remains is for President Trump to sign it.
But as we look at it from the Pacific Rim states that will vote on Tuesday, despite the West's history of lynching, we may not understand how deeply this bill resonates, even as late as it is in coming, to the Southern states, Texas, and the southern Midwest. If we consider the outrage we might feel that it has taken a century for this bill to come this close to becoming law, maybe we can understand better why race is more important than class in large parts of the country, and how that works out in the Democratic Party. On the other hand, that seems to depend on what ethnic group being considered\, since Hispanics appear to be overwhelmingly for Sanders and they are no strangers to lynching either.1. And then there are the manifold issues surrounding discrimination by gender and gender identification; not to mention the generations, each one with its own name -- from Boomers to the Z Gen/iGen/Centennials.
The gumbo that makes up the Democratic Party is seasoned by many bitter histories seeking justice in a soup not always known for that flavor. And the "conversation" as the Morning Joe crowd calls it, is more dialectic than dialogue. American reality is harsh and complex and the approach of the Other Side -- racist fantasies of supremacy -- won't work either. --blj
Congress’s attempts to address the racially-driven mob killings date back over a century, but past House bills have either stalled or been blocked in the Senate. The bill is named after Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black teen from Chicago who was lynched in 1955 while visiting family in Mississippi. The incident drew national attention, especially after his mother insisted on an open-casket funeral and photos of his disfigured face circulated nationwide. -- Naranjo, Politico.com, Feb. 26, 2020
'It is never too late to do the right thing': House passes federal anti-lynching bill
"Lynching was a blot on the history of America,” says Steny Hoyer.
By JESSE NARANJO
The House on Wednesday passed a bill that would make lynching a federal hate crime, a major victory for advocates who have long sought to address America’s history of racial violence.
The Emmett Till Antilynching Act, introduced by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), passed with an overwhelming 410-4 vote. The Senate passed a similar bill, backed by Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), last February with broad bipartisan support. The Senate will need to vote on the House bill before it goes to the White House to be signed into law.
“I am just so, more than words can express, so delighted that finally after over 200 tries in Congress, finally after former Congressman Leonidas Dyer ... sponsored legislation in 1902 and it passed the House and failed in the Senate,” Rush told reporters before the vote. “We’re finally poised to pass the Emmett Till Antilynching Act in the House today.”
Rush added that he had been assured by Senate sponsors that the bill would be brought up for a vote and passed in the upper chamber by the end of the week, meaning Congress could pass the legislation by the end of Black History Month.
Congress’s attempts to address the racially-driven mob killings date back over a century, but past House bills have either stalled or been blocked in the Senate. The bill is named after Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black teen from Chicago who was lynched in 1955 while visiting family in Mississippi. The incident drew national attention, especially after his mother insisted on an open-casket funeral and photos of his disfigured face circulated nationwide.
“That picture of Emmett in that casket catalyzed an entire nation,” Rush told reporters ahead of the vote.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said it was fitting that the measure was named after Till, and that the “bill is late in coming, but it is never too late to do the right thing.”
“Lynching was a blot on the history of America, but the even greater blot is the silence that for too long maintained in the context of what people knew was happening,” Hoyer said.
Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, said though lynchings took on a different form when groups such as the Ku Klux Klan began carrying them out after abolition, the practice was also used to terrorize enslaved people and prevent them from rebelling.
“And frankly even today periodically you hear new stories of nooses being left on college campuses, worker locker rooms, to threaten and terrorize African Americans, a vicious reminder that the past is never that far away,” Bass said.
Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), who last year worked to introduce House legislation to mirror the Senate bill’s language, said on the House floor earlier on Wednesday that Congress was closer than it had ever been making lynching a federal crime, and that the action was long overdue.
“We will finally get this to the president’s desk to be signed into law in order to close one of the ugliest chapters in America’s history once and for all,” he said.
(1) Simon Romero, New York Times, Lynch Mobs Killed Latinos Across the West. The Fight to Remember These Atrocities is Just Starting, March 2, 2019