Lynching is now a federal hate crime under bill President signed Tuesday

The Emmett Till Antilynching Act is named after a 14-year-old who became a civil rights icon after his brutal murder following a racist attack
Published: Mar. 30, 2022 at 8:37 AM MDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Sixty-seven years after the death of Emmett Till, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law that makes lynching a federal hate crime.

“To the Till family we remain in awe of your courage to find purpose through your pain,” said President Biden.

Till’s cousin, Rev. Wheeler Parker, was among those in attendance at the event.

“It shows how America is willing to change. We’ve come a long way. We have a lot of work to do. But it tells me that there’s hope and I can see it in the people who have the fire in their belly and the guts to do what’s right,” said Parker.

Parker witnessed Till’s abduction in Mississippi in 1955. Till had been accused of flirting with a white woman inside a store. Till’s body was recovered from a river after he had been tortured and shot. The two white men accused in the crime were found not guilty by an all white male jury.

Till’s mother insisted on an open casket so the nation could see the brutality of the crime.

The Equal Justice Initiative reports that there have been more than 200 attempts since 1900 to pass federal anti-lynching legislation. The group claims, between 1865 and 1950 alone there were nearly 6500 lynchings.

When the Washington Bureau asked Parker how he stayed focused during the long debate to pass the bill, he said he followed a key piece of advice that he now gives to other civil rights advocates.

“Never give up,” he said. “There is hope.”

The Emmitt Till Anti-lyncing law will make lynching a federal hate crime with penalties ranging from a fine to up to 30 years of prison.

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