Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Bill Signed into Law

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On March 29, 2022, President Joe Biden signed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act into law. Under this bill, lynching has finally become a federal crime, allowing federal prosecution when states fail to charge perpetrators or convictions do not stand.

Although the legislation passed unanimously in the Senate, and near unanimously in the House (422-3 with 8 members not voting), it took more than 100 years and 200 failed attempts for the United States Congress to pass a bill that made lynching a federal crime.

Because you already know how important it is to keep Civil Rights Movement history alive, you might also know that while the bill is named after Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Black youth from Chicago who was tortured and murdered by two white men in Mississippi in 1955, efforts for anti-lynching legislation began in earnest in 1892 with the publication of “Southern Horrors: The Lynch Law in All Its Phases,” by Ida B. Wells-Barnett.* Wells-Barnett, a journalist and social critic, petitioned seven presidential administrations from William McKinley to Herbert Hoover, but received little support.

Michelle Duster, author, speaker, educator, and great-granddaughter of Ida B. Wells-Barnett, the iconic anti-lynching activist and suffragist, was present for the bill’s signing at the White House last week. Ms. Duster spoke as part of the LLP’s speaker series, Voting Rights: The Struggle Continues, originally broadcast on August 25, 2020. You can watch it here: “The 19th Amendment and Women’s Right to Vote”.

The first anti-lynching legislation was introduced in 1900 by Rep. George Henry White of North Carolina (the only Black member of Congress at that time) — the bill failed to make it out of committee.

Lynching is generally defined to mean illegal actions that result in death or injury based on race without due process for the victim.

The Living Legacy Project is committed to providing ongoing education about lynching. If you’ve already taken a Living Legacy Pilgrimage through Mississippi, you will remember visiting the site of the grocery store where Emmett Till allegedly whistled at Carolyn Bryant, an act that led to his kidnapping and murder by her husband and brother-in-law.

You might have also visited the Emmett Till Historic Intrepid Center in Glendora, Mississippi, where participants receive an in-depth examination of the events and exhibits entered at trial, a trial that, despite damning evidence to the contrary, resulted in the lack of conviction by an all-white jury, and how the murderers later confessed to Life magazine but could not be re-charged due to double jeopardy statutes.

In Montgomery, AL, Pilgrimages visit the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and National Memorial of Peace and Justice, to honor the victims of lynching and learn the history of this horrendous practice in this country.

The Emmett Till Anti-Lynching legislation would still be stuck in committee, if the history of this horrific crime had been forgotten. The Living Legacy Project promotes education and activism that keeps the moral arc of the universe bending toward justice. That’s why we are bringing another lynching story, the 1965 car bombing of Wharlest Jackson in Natchez, MS, to light through a free online program on April 11, 2022.

These stories must be remembered, and for that, we need your financial support.

Will you help the Living Legacy Project keep these stories alive?

  • $50 will allow us to reach more people who are concerned about the ongoing impact of lynching in today’s world.
  • $100 will support our efforts to educate college students about the Civil Rights Movement.
  • $300 will educate a wide audience by bringing a powerful activist or veteran of the Civil Rights Movement to speak at an online program
  • $1000 will support an economically disadvantaged person to participate in a Living Legacy Pilgrimage.
  • $2500 will allow us to organize online and in-person programs to keep the vital history of the Civil Rights Movement alive.

Ways to Give

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Living Legacy Project, Inc

1248 CarMia Way #1015

Richmond VA 23235

Thank you for your financial contribution to support our work. We will put your money to work immediately to lift-up the stories of people who gave everything to secure civil rights for all people. These stories cannot be forgotten if we want justice and peace for future generations.

P.S. If you haven’t had the opportunity to join us for a Living Legacy Pilgrimage, we hope you will soon. We expect to be back on the bus by the third quarter of 2022. Watch our newsletter for announcements as soon as plans are finalized. But, in the meantime, please donate now so we have the means to organize more experiential education opportunities this year and for years to come.

The Living Legacy Project is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. EIN: 84-2816632. Your donations are always appreciated. We thank you for your generosity.