The House Judiciary Committee passed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act (H.R. 55), legislation introduced by U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) that would for the first time designate lynching as a federal hate crime. There have been more than 200 attempts to codify lynching as a federal crime since 1900. More than 6,500 Black Americans were lynched between 1865 and 1950, according to a recent report from the Equal Justice Initiative. The legislation passed through Committee by voice vote and now advances to the House Floor.
“I was eight years old when my mother put the photograph of Emmett Till’s brutalized body in Jet Magazine on our living room coffee table, pointed to it, and told us, ‘this is why I brought my boys out of Albany, Georgia.’ That photograph shaped my consciousness as a Black man in America and changed the course of my life. And it changed our nation,” said Rush. “The lynching of Emmett Till, and Mamie Till-Mobley’s courageous decision to hold an open-casket funeral for her son, was a catalyst for the civil rights movement. It exposed our nation to the brutal truth and terror of racism in America and put us on the path to becoming a more equal nation.”
“It has been more than 120 years since the first antilynching bill was introduced in Congress. Despite nearly 200 attempts since then to codify lynching as a federal crime, it has never been done. The Emmett Till Antilynching Act would correct this historical injustice and ensure that the full force of the United States federal government is always brought to prosecute those who commit the monstrous act of lynching. Passage of this bill will show that our nation understands the heinous legacy of lynching and begin the process of closing this shameful chapter of our history. I am thrilled that the Emmett Till Antilynching Act has passed through the House Judiciary Committee and look forward to seeing it come up for a vote on the House Floor.”
Rush reintroduced his Emmett Till Antilynching Act (H.R. 55) on the first day of the 117th Congress. The legislation was first introducedby Rep. Rush in the 115th Congress. It passed the House of Representatives in February 2020 with overwhelming bipartisan support but was blocked in the Senate by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.). H.R. 55 currently has 179 bipartisan cosponsors in the House.
Rush is also the lead sponsor of bipartisan legislation that would award a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal to Emmett Till and his mother Mamie Till-Mobley (H.R. 2252) and legislation that would direct the Postmaster General to issue a commemorative postage stamp in honor of Mamie Till-Mobley (H.R. 4581).