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Rush Announces House Vote on Historic Anti-Lynching Legislation

Recently, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) announced that the House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 35, the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act, on Wednesday, February 26, 2020. The legislation, introduced by Representative Bobby L. Rush (IL), would designate lynching as a hate crime under federal law.

“For too long, lynching has not been classified as a federal crime, but to borrow a quote from Rev. King, ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,’” said Rep. Bobby L. Rush. “102 years ago, Congressman Leonidas C. Dyer of Missouri introduced the first antilynching legislation to pass the House, but tragically, that bill died in the Senate. However, with today’s announcement, we are one step closer to finally outlawing this heinous practice and achieving justice for over four thousand victims of lynching, including Emmitt Till. Moreover, the importance of this bill cannot be overstated. From Charlottesville to El Paso, we are still being confronted with the same violent racism and hatred that took the life of Emmett and so many others. The passage of this bill will send a strong and clear message to the nation that we will not tolerate this bigotry. I am beyond honored to see this bill finally get the vote it deserves on the House Floor, and I am thankful to Chairman Nadler, Chairwoman Bass, and Leader Hoyer, as well as Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, for working to get this historic piece of legislation across the finish line. I can think of no better way to honor the memory of Emmett Till and celebrate Black History Month than with the swift passage of this bill next week.”

“On Wednesday, the House will consider the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act, which will explicitly designate lynching as a hate crime under federal law,” said Leader Hoyer. “This legislation is long overdue, but it is never too late to do the right thing and address these gruesome, racially motivated acts of terror that have plagued our nation’s history. As we renew our commitment to confronting racism and hate during Black History Month, the House will take this historic step to demonstrate that commitment, and I hope this bill receives strong bipartisan support. I thank Congressman Rush for his leadership on this bill, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Nadler for his tireless work advancing this bill through committee, CBC Chairwoman Bass for her work on this important civil rights issue, and Senators Booker and Harris for their leadership on this in the Senate.”

“More than 100 years have passed since Congressman George Henry White introduced the first anti-lynching legislation,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler. “Next week, we will finally take concrete steps to address this dark and shameful chapter in American history by bringing the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act to a vote on the House Floor. I am proud to have supported this legislation and want to applaud Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), along with Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA), for their leadership in working to correct this historical injustice.”

“After 256 years of enslavement, African Americans were subjected to acts of racial terror throughout this country,” said Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass. “One of the worst examples of this was the act of lynching. Unfortunately, this is not a legacy solely of our past. While this reign of terror has faded, the most recent lynching happened less than 25 years ago. Although, we cannot truly rectify the terror and horrors of these acts, next week the House of Representatives, which once included slave owners and Ku Klux Klan members, will stand up and do our part so that justice is delivered in the future. The fight for civil rights and to protect our community from racially motivated violence continues to this day. I thank our colleague, Representative Bobby Rush, and Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris for championing this effort and seeing it through. We cannot wait any longer. I urge my colleagues to support this bill next week.”

U.S. Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) on Thursday applauded the House of Representatives for announcing a vote on historic legislation to make lynching a federal crime for the first time in American history. Senators Harris and Booker, along with Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), introduced the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act that unanimously passed the Senate last year. After passing the House, their bill will head to the president’s desk to be signed into law. 

“Lynchings were horrendous, racist acts of violence,” said Senator Harris. “For far too long Congress has failed to take a moral stand and pass a bill to finally make lynching a federal crime. I’m grateful for the partnership of Senators Booker and Scott, and I applaud the House of Representatives for bringing this important legislation to the floor. This justice is long overdue.” 

“I’m humbled and grateful that the House will be taking up this important piece of legislation next week. Lynching has been used as a pernicious tool of racialized violence, terror, and oppression and is a stain on the soul of our nation. While we cannot undue the irrevocable damage of lynching and its pervasive legacy, we can ensure that we as a country make clear that lynching will not be tolerated,” said Senator Booker.

From 1882 to 1986, Congress failed to pass anti-lynching legislation 200 times. Lynching was used as an instrument of terror and intimidation 4,084 times during the late 19th and 20th centuries, according to data from the Equal Justice Initiative.

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