The United States Congress has passed a legislation to make lynching a federal crime.
The anti-lynching legislation named after Emmett Till and introduced by Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush was passed Wednesday, 65 years after the 14-year-old was brutally lynched in Mississippi.
In 1955, the 14-year-old black teenager was kidnapped in Money, Miss. He was beaten and lynched for allegedly flirting with a white cashier at a local store, which was a huge offense at the time.
Last October a new bulletproof marker was unveiled to honor Till after previous ones were repeatedly vandalized to erase the memory of the civil rights martyr.
The marker was erected near the Tallahatchie River where Till’s body was found days later but was repeatedly vandalized.
The Emmett Till anti-lynching Act passed with expansive, bipartisan support in a 410-4 vote.
Independent Rep. Justin Amash voted against the bill along with three Republicans: Thomas Massie, Ted Yoho, and Louie Gohmert, CNN reports.
“Today Congress has an opportunity to acknowledge its responsibility for its historic failure to confront and end the horror of lynching in America,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the floor ahead of the vote in support of the measure.
“The importance of this bill cannot be overstated,″ said Rush, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. ”From Charlottesville to El Paso, we are still being confronted with the same violent racism and hatred that took the life of Emmett and so many others. The passage of this bill will send a strong and clear message to the nation that we will not tolerate this bigotry.”
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., who represents the area where Till was abducted and murdered, called the anti-lynching bill long overdue, adding: “No matter the length of time, it is never too late to ensure justice is served.″
The chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Karen Bass of California, added: “Make no mistake, lynching is terrorism. While this reign of terror has faded, the most recent lynching (in the United States) happened less than 25 years ago.″
Senators Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey lauded the House passage of the bill. “Lynchings were horrendous, racist acts of violence,” Harris said in a statement.
“For far too long Congress has failed to take a moral stand and pass a bill to finally make lynching a federal crime. This justice is long overdue.”
For Booker lynching is “a pernicious tool of racialized violence, terror and oppression” and “a stain on the soul of our nation. ″ According to him, while Congress cannot undo lynching’s irrevocable damage,” we can ensure that we as a country make clear that lynching will not be tolerated.”
According to the HuffPost, the United States Congress had failed to pass anti-lynching legislation nearly 200 times.
The first bill was introduced in 1900 by North Carolina Rep. George Henry White, the only black member of Congress at the time.
President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill, which will make lynching a federal hate crime punishable by up to life in prison, a fine, or both.