Press Releases

Nadler, Cohen, Bass Applaud House Passage of Historic Antilynching Legislation

Washington, February 26, 2020

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 35, the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, which explicitly designates lynching as a hate crime under federal law, by a vote of 410-4. This historic legislation, introduced by Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), is the only antilyncing legislation to successfully pass the House in nearly 100 years. In February 2019, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation introduced by Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Tim Scott (R-SC) to designate lynching as a federal crime.

"For far too long, the House of Representatives has lacked the moral courage to designate lynching as federal crime," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). "While we cannot undo the abhorrent damage caused by decades of unjust lynching, today's passage of theEmmett Till Antilynching Act marks a meaningful step towards correcting our nation's history with this racist act of violence. I'm proud that Congress has now sent an indisputable message that lynching will not be tolerated, and I look forward to seeing this long-overdue legislation be signed into law."

"The murder of Emmett Till shocked the nation and was particularly resonant in the Mid-South," said Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN), Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties. "Unfortunately, we are still being confronted with the racism that took his life. Passage of this anti-lynching measure and naming it for Emmett Till sends the message that we will never forget his tragic death and we will not tolerate bigotry."

"Today, the House of Representatives passed legislation to designate lynching as a hate crime under federal law," said Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-CA). "It is a travesty that it has taken 120 years since antilynching legislation was first introduced in 1900, for the United States government to address this issue. Lynching is an act of terrorism and was common for the 256 years during the period of enslavement of Africans in this country and for the 100 years after that period. Even today, periodically you will hear news stories of nooses being left on college campuses or in work locker rooms as a vicious reminder that the past is never that far away. We often like to only talk about the glorious parts of our history because it can be hard to hear some of this country’s ugly past but it is important that we do so to understand our history in full. I thank Congressman Bobby Rush for his leadership on this vital issue along with Chairman Nadler and Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris. I call upon the Senate to usher this piece of legislation through quickly."