On Friday the US Senate’s only three Black Senators – Kamala Harris (D – CA), Cory Booker(D – NJ) and Tim Scott (R – SC) – joined together to introduce a bipartisan anti-lynching bill. The legislation, titled “The Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2018,” will make lynching punishable as a federal hate crime.
Yes, it is 2018.
According to Senator Harris, there have been over 200 attempts by Congress to pass anti-lynching legislation between 1882 and 1986 (104 years), all of which failed. Her office shared statistics from the Equal Justice Initiative detailing that over 4,000 African Americans, including women and children, had been lynched in America in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Historical records kept by the Tuskegee Institute (Tuskegee University) share that over 4,700 people have died from lynching between 1882 and 1959. The peak year was 1892 where 231 lynchings were recorded. The last lynching the Institute recorded was Emmett Till in 1955.
The vast majority of lynchings occurred in the South, where White mobs would institute vigilante ‘justice’ for alleged crimes such as murder, rape, arson, etc. More often then not the true reason was to eliminate African American economic competition or punishment for violating some racist Jim Crow custom.
In response to the bill Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated “I thought we did that many years ago. I thought it was done back during LBJ or some period like that.” McConnell went on to express he would support such a bill.