PLBC: Federal anti-lynching law 100 years overdue, but not too late

PHILADELPHIA, March 4 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, along with its members, today issued a statement following the passage of the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act in the U.S. House, a bill that carries the namesake of 14-year-old Emmett Till, an African-American boy who was brutally lynched by a white mob after being falsely accused of whistling at a white woman in Mississippi:


“I, along with members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, applaud last week’s passage of the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act to finally make this barbaric behavior a crime under federal law,” Kinsey said. “It’s been too many years -- 120 years to be exact -- and countless lives overdue, but hardly too late. This gruesome act of domestic terrorism has been used to instill fear and maintain white supremacy across our country, including here in Pennsylvania. It’s the ultimate consequence African-Americans suffered for daring to assert their humanity and exercise their right to live in a society that cast them as subhuman and only worthy of servitude. Sadly, many African-Americans are still reeling from the trauma of stories of their loved ones and neighbors being lynched. We must recognize that young Emmett Till’s murder was not that long ago and there have been many others in recent years.”

The legislation passed 410-4. The dissenters were 3 Republicans and 1 Independent, who cited protecting states’ rights from federal government overreach as the reason for their opposition.

Kinsey shifted focus to the four dissenters, saying, “I am especially dismayed with the four dissenters, some of whom deem strengthening protections for historically marginalized lives an example of supposed government overreach. Attempting to rectify a horrid part of our nation’s history should never be eclipsed by such a weak claim. States had their chance to step up and do the morally right thing, but they were complicit in allowing the brutal slaughter of over 3,400 men, women and children for simply being black.”