On Tuesday, March 29, 20222, President Joseph Biden signed the Emmet Till Anti-Lynching Act which made lynching a federal hate crime… it took over 100 years to sign this Act into law.
Thousands of Black Americans, my ancestors, were lynched over and over, yet no one, from elected officials to police to private citizens were ever held accountable. More often than not, they stood alongside the lynchers feeling any lynching was a justifiable act. Lynchings were vicious murders, acts of terrorism used to intimidate entire communities of color.
With the signing of the Emmet Till Anti-Lynching Act by a Democratic President, I believe, after over 100 years, justice has finally prevailed.
—Alester Linton-Pryor, Chair
Horry County Democratic Party
Some words from President Biden after signing the Emmet Till Anti-Lynching Act:
It was over 100 years ago, in 1900, when a North Carolina Representative named George Henry White — the son of a slave; the only Black lawmaker in Congress at the time first introduced legislation to make lynching a federal crime. Between 1877 and 1950, more than 4,400 Black people were murdered by lynching, most in the South but some in the North as well.
One of the leading chronicles of our history of lynching is Bryan Stevenson. He helped build the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama — America’s first site dedicated to understanding the legacy of lynching. His extensive research showed that between 1877 and 1950, more than 4,400 Black people were murdered by lynching, most in the South but some in the North as well.
Lynching was pure terror to enforce the lie that not everyone belongs in America and not everyone is created equal; a terror to systematically undermine hard-fought civil rights; terror not just in the dark of the night but in broad daylight. The barbaric nature of lynching was used as a tool to intimidate and subjugate Black Americans. Innocent men, women, and children hung by nooses from trees. Bodies burned and drowned and castrated. Thier crimes? Trying to vote, trying to go to school, trying to move into a neighborhood, trying to own a business, or preaching the Gospel. Lynched because of a false accusation of murder, arson, or robbery. Lynched… simply for being Black. Often crowds of white families gathered to celebrate lynchings, taking pictures of the bodies and mailing them as postcards.
In the summer of 1955, Emmett turned 14 years old. His mother told him the unwritten rules he had to follow. Quote, “Be very careful how you speak. Say ‘yes sir’ and ‘no ma’am’, and do not hesitate to be — to humble yourself if you have to get down on your knees”. End of quote. Days after he arrived in Mississippi, Emmett’s mutilated body was found in a river, barbed wire tied around his neck and a 75-pound cotton gin fan attached to that wire as he was thrown into the river. Emmett’s mother demanded that her son be sent home so that his funeral in Chicago could be an open casket. Here’s what she said: “Let the people see what I’ve seen.” America and the world saw what she saw.
Racial hate isn’t an old problem; it’s a persistent problem. A persistent problem. And I know many of the civil rights leaders here know, and you heard me say it a hundred times: Hate never goes away; it only hides. It hides under the rocks. And given just a little bit of oxygen, it comes roaring back out, screaming. But what stops it is all of us, not a few, all of us have to stop it.