The story of Emmett Till is one we’ve detailed at length here on Hip-Hop Wired in times past and the shocking details of the teenager’s murder still inspire waves of anger and sadness. Becoming a symbol of the Civil Rights Movement, Till’s name lives on and will continue to do so by way of a newly-passed bill named after him that finally outlaws the racist practice of lynching.
The H.R. 35 bill, or the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, was passed on Wednesday in the House on a 410-4 vote. The bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois, presented the reasons he and his colleagues on both sides of the aisle put effort into getting this measure passed.
“Lynching, plain and simple, is an American evil. This atrocity is comparable to the French use of the guillotine, the Roman Empire’s use of crucifixion, and the British use of drawing and quartering as a tool of terrorism. And, for too long now, federal law against lynching has remained conspicuously silent,” Rep. Rush. “Today, we will send a strong message that violence —and race-based violence, in particular — has no place in American society.”
The practice of lynching, long used as a tool to control and incite fear in Black Americans, was widely applied across the Deep South where Jim Crow laws kept the walls of bigotry and discrimination fortified against fairness and equality. It remains an ugly stain within the annals of American history and in 2018, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice was opened in Alabama featuring the names of those who lost their lives.
Along with W.E.B. DuBois and the NAACP, Ida B. Wells was perhaps one of the more active anti-lynching figures of her era who worked as a reporter to uncover the widespread use of the horrible act.
President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.