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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks Following The Historic Senate Passage Of The Emmett Till Antilynching Act

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor after the passage of the Emmett Till Antilynching Act last night. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

In 1922, the first robust anti-lynching bill was successfully passed by the House of Representatives. Once it came to the Senate, a bloc of Southern Segregationists mounted a filibuster to kill it in its tracks.

Over the decades, similar bills met similar fates. Throughout the 20th century scores of anti-lynching bills were introduced only to be promptly buried into obscurity. In 2018, Congress came closer than ever to finally passing anti-lynching legislation before it was thwarted at the eleventh hour.

But last night, finally – finally –  after more than 200 failed attempts to declare lynching a federal crime, the Senate succeeded in taking long-overdue action by passing the Emmett Till Antilynching Act.

Hallelujah: Congress has finally declared lynching a federal crime, as it should have done more than a century ago. That it took so long is a permanent, bitter stain on American history but finally, a century’s worth of efforts have now paid off.

To say this is a historic accomplishment is impossibly inadequate. Generations of civil rights leaders and advocates dedicated their lives to getting Congress to recognize the humane obvious truth that lynching was an intolerable injustice inflicted primarily on disenfranchised Black Americans.

Thousands upon thousands of Black Americans have been victims of lynch mobs across the country, and indifferent states rarely responded, if ever. Many of the sworn officers of these states and localities not only ignored, but often participated when these atrocities occurred. Despicable. Horrible. America should be so ashamed of this chapter in her history.

And while no single Congressional action can fully erase the injustices committed against victims of lynching, last night was an important step in the never ending work of perfecting our union. Only by confronting the darkest elements of our history can we make straight the path towards a brighter and more just future.

I want to really applaud Senator Booker. He has been diligent and hard-working and valiant in getting this to happen. He had a great partner in Senator [Tim] Scott, bipartisan. And on the House side, a person who lit this candle and kept it glowing, even in the most disappointing of times, was Bobby Rush. He never gave up.

Congress has finally taken action, and this bill now heads to President Biden’s desk finally finally for signature.