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House Passes Emmett Till Bill To Make Lynching Federal Crime, 3 Republicans Vote Against

The House voted 422-3 to pass the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, which would make lynching a federal hate crime.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Illinois).

“By passing my Emmett Till Antilynching Act, the House 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,” Rush said.

The bill is named in honor of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy who was kidnapped and lynched in Mississippi in 1955 for allegedly whistling and making advances at a white woman. The woman, Carolyn Bryant Donham, later admitted she lied about Till making physical and verbal advances on her. Till’s mother, Mamie Till Mobley, held an open casket at his funeral, where his disfigured body was photographed by Chicago-based Jet magazine. The photos outraged the nation and propelled the beginnings of the civil rights movement.

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It has taken years for Congress to move any anti-lynching legislation, with many arguing that it is the same thing as murder.

Three Republican Reps. Andrew Clyde (Georgia), Thomas Massie (Kentucky) and Chip Roy (Texas) voted against the Emmett Till Antilynching Act. Massie voiced concern over the bill, explaining his reasoning on Twitter.

Roy said that the bill did not have a real effect on lynching and that all it did was raise punishment for other offenses like gender identity. He called the bill “legislative deception.”

Sens. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

Rose Carter

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