The Senate on Monday unanimously passed a bill that criminalizes lynching as a hate crime and makes the act punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
The Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act — named after a Black 14-year-old whose 1955 lynching sparked national outrage and a new era in the Civil Rights movement — now moves to the desk of President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it into law.
"After more than 200 failed attempts to outlaw lynching, Congress is finally succeeding in taking the long overdue action by passing the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act. Hallelujah. It's long overdue," said Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in remarks on the Senate floor after the bill's passage, according to CNN.
Last week, the bill easily passed the House of Representatives by a 422-3 vote. The only lawmakers who opposed the law were Reps. Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Chip Roy of Texas — all of whom are Republicans.
The co-sponsors of the legislation in the Senate were Sens. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, and Cory Booker, D-New Jersey. According to NPR, Paul objected to a similar bill that passed the House in 2020, saying at the time measure was too broad.
According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 4,743 lynchings occurred in the U.S. between 1882 to 1968, the most occurring in Mississippi.
NPR reports that the first anti-lynching bill was introduced in Congress in 1900 by Rep. George Henry White, at the time, the House's only Black member. While Congress passed a resolution in 2005 expressing remorse for never passing such a bill, momentum to actually pass legislation didn't pick up until the 2020 murder of George Floyd.