It’s taken 120 years, but the U.S. government has finally made lynching a federal crime.
On Wednesday, the House passed the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act, named for the black teen who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955, with 410 members voting in favor and four voting against. Three black senators — Democrats Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, plus Republican Tim Scott — pushed their version of the bill through the Senate in December, which means the historic legislation is now headed to President Donald Trump’s desk.
In 1900, when Rep. George Henry White, then the country’s only black congressman, first proposed the bill, racist violence and lynchings of African Americans were rampant, particularly in the South. Over 4,000 lynchings of African Americans occurred in 12 Southern states between 1877 and 1950, according to the Equal Justice Initiative. Today, lynchings are rare, but their ugly legacy persists.
Who opposed the bill?
The four House lawmakers who opposed the legislation Wednesday are Republicans Louie Gohmert of Texas, Ted Yoho of Florida, and Thomas Massie of Kentucky, and Independent Justin Amash of Michigan.