The call for justice against lynching in the U.S. has been heard as President Joe Biden is anticipated to sign the Emmett Till Antilynching Act (H.R. 55) on Tuesday afternoon.
Lynching will now be labeled as a federal hate crime with inspiration deriving from the brutal death of fourteen-year-old Emmett Till in 1955.
Till, an African American male from Chicago, was staying with relatives in Money, Mississippi when he allegedly whistled at Carolyn Bryant Donham. When told of Till’s purported actions, Donham’s husband and his brother beat and tortured Till until he died from a gunshot to the head.
The young man’s death has fueled a civil rights movement that has lasted for decades and recently pushed U.S. legislators to put harsher penalties on those convicted of lynching.
With the signing of the bill, attempts or committed acts of murder, bodily injury, kidnapping, or aggravated sexual abuse classified as lynching will now face penalties of a fine, up to 30 years in prison, or both.
Conspiring to commit an act of lynching will also be dealt with similarly, furthering the reach of the year-old bill introduced by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) in January 2021.
Rush released a statement on the House passing the bill in late February:
“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.”
Support for the bill from legislators in Mississippi has been constant with each Mississippi representative and senator voting in favor of the Antilynching Act.
Citizens across the nation are invited to watch as President Biden signs the bill into law this afternoon at 3:00 p.m. To tune in, click here.