/  03.29.2022

For the first time in the history of the United States, lynching has been made a federal hate crime. On Tuesday (March 29), President Joe Biden officially signed the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act — an acknowledgment of the “pure terror” endured by African Americans over the years.

“Lynching was pure terror to enforce the lie that not everyone … belongs in America, not everyone is created equal. Terror, to systematically undermine hard-fought civil rights,” he said at the signing ceremony, per CNN. “Terror, not just in the dark of the night but in broad daylight. Innocent men, women and children hung by nooses in trees, bodies burned and drowned and castrated.”

“Their crimes?” he asked before providing answers to the rhetorical question. “Trying to vote. Trying to go to school. Trying to own a business or preach the gospel. False accusations of murder, arson and robbery. Simply being Black.”

The passing of the law puts an end to the century-long process advocates were met with as they fought to criminalize lynching. Vice President Kamala Harris, who made an unsuccessful attempt when she was a senator, acknowledged the years-long fight while calling on Americans to stand up against other acts of terror.

 “Anti-lynching legislation has been introduced to the United States Congress more than 200 times,” she said. “Lynching is not a relic of the past. Racial acts of terror still occur in our nation. And when they do, we must all have the courage to name them and hold the perpetrators to account.”

The anti-lynching bill is specifically named after Till, who was lynched in 1955 after he was accused of whistling at a white woman. Biden, however, made it clear that it is also meant to address persistent acts of racism still taking place in the modern-day.

“From the bullets in the back of Ahmaud Arbery to countless other acts of violence, countless victims known and unknown, the same racial hatred that drove the mob to hang a noose brought that mob carrying torches out of the fields of Charlottesville just a few years ago — racial hate isn’t an old problem,” he said. “It’s a persistent problem.”

With the signing of the Emmett Till Bill, which Biden admits was “long overdue,” POTUS believes the nation is one “step toward that more perfect union.” Harris said the law is a recognition of “the horror in our history.”

See the tweets from President Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

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