Emmett Till Antilynching Act Passes After Centuries of Failed Efforts

Samantha Elkins, News Editor

On Tuesday, Mar. 29, President Joe Biden signed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, officially making lynching a federal hate crime. Lynching occurs when a mob or group of people kills someone accused of a crime without a trial. Historically, African Americans were targets of lynchings due to racial prejudice. 

The bill is named after Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Black teenager who was the victim of a lynching in 1955. A white woman claimed Till whistled and touched her inappropriately in a Mississippi grocery store. The woman’s husband heard of the alleged incident and gruesomely murdered Till, yet an all-white jury declared him not guilty. Years later, the white woman stated her accusations against Till were false. This instance represents just one instance of lynching in the U.S.

The Senate unanimously passed the bill in early March following the House’s passage of the legislation in late February. Congress had failed to pass over 200 anti-lynching bills since 1900, angering many across the U.S. The passing of this act demonstrates how racially-motivated crime has existed and continued to persist in the U.S.