President Joe Biden signed the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act into law on March 29, which explicitly names lynching as a federal hate crime.
Students should take the time to read into the new anti-lynching bill and consider the historical impact. This bill has significance with social justice and civil rights in the history of lynching in America.
Accounts of lynching are a must-read for those who wish to further understand the racial implications behind lynchings and why the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act needed to be passed.
“After more than 200 failed attempts to outlaw lynching, Congress is finally succeeding in taking a long-overdue action by passing the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.
The bill acts as a symbolic homage and posthumous pardon to its namesake, the late Emmett Till.
Emmett Till was a 14-year-old African American falsely accused of offending a white woman and subsequently beaten, mutilated and murdered. His killers were acquitted of their crimes, sparking public outrage throughout the South.
Considering how long it took for the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act to be approved, it proved to be a monumental step to combat racism in America. By recognizing lynching as a hate crime, America is officially condemning it as an act of murder rather than punishing a criminal for wrongdoing. This is especially true since most, if not all, lynchings were done to men, women and children at random periods in time.
Students must further research the history of this bill and other accounts of lynching and hate crimes that permeated America’s not-so-glorious past.
Emmett Till’s murder has been recorded in American history textbooks, but further knowledge on the subject is merely surface-level. Lynchings in post-Civil War America were very much tolerated and even photographed as public events, despite their traumatic effects on the African American community.
Most public records about lynching will not go into as much depth as they should, possibly due to a refusal of acknowledgment. However, some websites, literary journals and historical articles have delved deep into the racial tensions that spurred so many lynchings.
“Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror” is one of those literary pieces that go into detail. It contains a series of reports and historical documentation that shine a light on 19th and 20th-century America.
According to the article, “Avoiding honest conversation about this history has undermined our ability to build a nation where racial justice can be achieved.”
Education about racism during a reasonably recent period in American history will strengthen anti-racism ideologies and bring justice to the innocent men, women and children who lost their lives to racially-charged tyranny.