Wed – 2/26: “The past refuses to lie down quietly.” Ask your legislators to pass H.R. 35 – Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act.

(Quote from graphic here. Quote from header here.)

UPDATE: H.R. 35 was passed with a 410-4 majority, over 100 years after the first attempt. The four who actually voted against this bill:

History repeats: From 1922 – “The Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill, proposed by Missouri Republican Representative Leonidas C. Dyer, classified lynching as a federal felony, which would have given the federal government authority to prosecute lynching cases at a time when state and local authorities rarely did.

Action – Call your legislators. H.R. 35 is long overdue.

The Senate passed legislation to make lynching a federal crime in February, last year.  The bill, introduced by Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), makes lynching punishable as a hate crime.

Some people may be under the misapprehension that lynching violence is a long-ago historical travesty. They are mistaken.

“Phillip Carroll was 22 years old when his body was found hanging from a tree in the Washington Addition neighborhood in Jackson in 2017. His death was ruled a suicide.

Nick Naylor, 23, was found hanging by his dog’s leash after going for a walk in Kemper County in 2003. His death was ruled a suicide and featured on the program “Injustice Files” on the Investigation Discovery Network.

In Kokomo, Miss., in 2000, family found Raynard Johnson, 17, hanging from a pecan tree yards away from his family’s front door. Two autopsies led to a suicide ruling. This case was also featured on the ID Network.”

We’ve already waited way too long. Far too often we’ve seen in Mississippi over and over again (people) hanging from trees or hanging in a jail cell, and what do they call it? A suicide.” – Rukia Lumumba, lawyer.”

H.R. 35, the Emmet Till Antilynching Act, was introducted by Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) . Emmett Till, was only 14 years old when he was kidnapped, tortured and brutally murdered in 1955 after he allegedly whistled at a white woman in Mississippi. His death was a turning point in the civil rights movement.  Rep Rush said in a statment last week: “For too long, lynching has not been classified as a federal crime, but to borrow a quote from Rev. King, ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice'”

Minimal Script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Rep. [___] to pass H.R. 35 – Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act.

More script if you want it.: That this law wasn’t passed 120 years ago when first introduced, nor any of the nearly 200 antilynching bills introduced afterwards, is a national disgrace.

Rep-check: Brownley has NOT cosponsored. Carbajal has.

Rep. Julia Brownley: email(CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal:
email.(CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Who is my representative/senator?:

Deeper Dive

“May this nation, too, refuse to rest in the fight to guarantee all its citizens equal protection under the law.” – Tulani Salahu-Din, Museum Specialist, Office of Curatorial Affairs

Here is the actual text of H.R. 35, with some additions from us.


To amend section 249 of title 18, United States Code, to specify lynching as a hate crime act.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the “Emmett Till Antilynching Act”.


Congress finds the following:

(1) In the 20th century lynching occurred mostly in southern States by White southerners against Black southerners.

(2) In 1892, the Tuskegee Institute began to record statistics of lynchings and reported that 4,742 reported lynchings had taken place by 1968, of which 3,445 of the victims were Black.

(3) Most of the lynchings that occurred in the South were mass moblike lynchings.

(4) Mass moblike lynchings were barbaric by nature characterized by members of the mob, mostly White southerners, shooting, burning, and mutilating the victim’s body, alive.

(5) In “Anatomy of a Lynching: The Killing of Claude Neal”, community papers readily advertised mob lynchings, as evidenced by a Florida local paper headline: “Florida to Burn Negro at Stake: Sex Criminal Seized from Brewton Jail, Will be Mutilated, Set Afire in Extra-Legal Vengeance for Deed.”

(6) Civil rights groups documented and presented Congress evidence of vigilante moblike lynchings.

(This is a ferocious, horrifying video from “Without Sanctuary. The still photograph collection is here.)

(7) Evidence by NAACP investigator Howard Kester documented the extreme brutality of these lynchings. An excerpt from “Anatomy of a Lynching” further illustrates this point: “After taking the nigger to the woods about four miles from Greenwood, they cut off his penis. He was made to eat it. Then they cut off his testicles and made him eat them and say he liked it.”

(8) Many civil rights groups, notably the Anti-Lynching Crusaders, also known as the ALC, operating under the umbrella of the NAACP, made numerous requests to Congress to make lynching a Federal crime.

(9) Congressman George Henry White, an African American, introduced the first Federal an­ti­lynch­ing bill and subsequently nearly 200 an­ti­lynch­ing bills were introduced in the Congress during the first half of the 20th century.

(10) Between 1890 and 1952, seven Presidents petitioned Congress to end lynching.

(11) Between 1920 and 1940, the House of Representatives passed three strong antilynching measures, of which Congress came closest to enacting antilynching legislation sponsored by Congressman Leonidas C. Dyer in 1922.

(12) On all three occasions, opponents of antilynching legislation, argued States’ rights and used the filibuster, or the threat of it, to block the Senate from voting on the measures.

(13) The enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 was the closest Congress ever came in the post-Reconstruction era to enacting antilynching legislation.

(14) In 2005, the Senate passed a resolution, sponsored by Senators Mary Landrieu and George Allen, apologizing for the Senate’s failure to enact antilynching legislation as a Federal crime, with Senator Landrieu saying, “There may be no other injustice in American history for which the Senate so uniquely bears responsibility.”

(Here is Republican Senator of Mississippi, Cindy Hyde-Smith, saying what comes naturally.)

(15) To heal past and present racial injustice, Congress must make lynching a Federal crime so our Nation can begin reconciliation.


Section 249(a) of title 18, United States Code, is amended—

(1) by redesignating paragraph (4) as paragraph (5); and

(2) by inserting after paragraph (3) the following:

“(4) OFFENSES INVOLVING LYNCHING.—Whoever, whether or not acting under color of law, willfully, acting as part of any collection of people, assembled for the purpose and with the intention of committing an act of violence upon any person, causes death to any person, shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life, fined under this title, or both.”.



Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift from Dawn Simon Spears and Alvin Spears, Sr.


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