An Anti-Lynching Law Has Struggled To Pass For Over 100 Years

NAACP Anti-lynching flag
Via Flickr
William Anderson
May 20, 2020

The House of Representatives passed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, a powerful piece of legislation created by Rep. Bobby Rush. There are plenty of reasons this is a big deal, and a lot of it has to do with the monumental effort it’s taken to get to this point.

Over the last 100 years, there have been nearly 200 attempts from Congress to consider similar legislation. It always gets “bogged down in the Senate,” Rep. Rush said in an interview with Vox. Now there’s a major inspiration to push it through for many.

The murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia could be directly impacted by this anti-lynching legislation. Under Rush’s bill, lynching would become a federal crime that bypasses local and state jurisdictions. Other similar legislation has just been given new life too.

In 2019, Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Tim Scott (R-SC) advanced the similar Justice For Victims Of Lynching Act. Though the differences are minor, House Democrats hope Rush’s version will reach President Trump’s desk - but there’s a problem.

The anti-lynching legislation is still stalled in the Senate, despite many pushing for it to be made into law. Politicians may be unable to pass this legislation, which is decades overdue, but we will stand up for our community with or without them. We’ve always had to.

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