Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act heading to Biden's desk for signature

Washington DC - Over 65 years after Emmett Till's brutal murder, Congress on Monday approved legislation named in his honor that would make lynching a federal hate crime.

Congressman Bobby Rush (r.) is lead sponsor of the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act (archive image).
Congressman Bobby Rush (r.) is lead sponsor of the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act (archive image).  © collage: IMAGO / Everett Collection & IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

In 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till was murdered after a white woman accused him of flirting with her in her family's grocery store in Mississippi.

The woman's husband and half-brother kidnapped and tortured Till before shooting him and dumping his body in the river. The men were subsequently acquitted before an all-white jury.

Till's mother held an open-coffin funeral to show how brutal her son's killing had been.

Since then, there have been many failed attempts to make lynching a federal hate crime.

As recently as 2020, the House overwhelmingly approved a bill that would do so, but it was shot down in the Senate.

This time around, an amended version of the bill not only made it through the House, but also through the Senate with unanimous support, the Associated Press reported.

"After more than 200 failed attempts to outlaw lynching, Congress is finally succeeding in taking a long overdue action by passing the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

"Lynching is a longstanding and uniquely American weapon of racial terror that has for decades been used to maintain the white hierarchy," said Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush, lead sponsor of the bill.

Passing the legislation "sends a clear and emphatic message that our nation will no longer ignore this shameful chapter of our history and that the full force of the US federal government will always be brought to bear against those who commit this heinous act," he added.

The Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act now heads to President Biden's desk for signature.

Cover photo: collage: IMAGO / Everett Collection & IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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