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Anti-lynching law is long overdue

Melvin B. Miller
Anti-lynching law is long overdue
“We can’t turn our backs on Black Americans while aiding Ukrainians.”

In the years following Reconstruction after the Civil War, Blacks campaigning for civil rights were more concerned about the danger of being lynched than any other action by the white racists. Groups of whites killed Blacks for the most trivial of reasons for the primary purpose of establishing the superiority of whites. There have been countless efforts over the decades to make lynching a federal offense in order to assure a legal remedy against offenders, but every attempt has failed. Now for the first time, Congress has approved an anti-lynching law, 422 to 3.

The U.S. Senate, as expected, has summarily approved the law. How can Republicans deny federal protection for American citizens while everyone is committed to helping the Ukrainians who are being attacked by the Russians? The old U.S. excuse for abandoning Blacks under attack in the South was that assault and murder are local crimes that should be prosecuted in local state courts. Everyone knew that white juries in the old days would never convict whites for murdering Blacks, even when the evidence was indisputable.

Tuskegee Institute, a Black university, established that between 1882 and 1959 white racists lynched 4,733 Blacks. The measure recently passed by the House of Representatives would punish a hate crime with a prison penalty of up to 30 years. The practice of lynching did not get appropriate national attention until the brutal murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy from Chicago who was visiting relatives in Mississippi in 1955.

One would hope that the recent vote to brand lynching as a hate crime indicates that hostility toward Blacks is over. Unfortunately, the Anti-Defamation League reports that there were 108 documented white-supremacist events in 2021. That is more than twice the 53 events in 2020.

Undoubtedly, political pressure from Russia’s attack on Ukraine has driven support for the vote. How does a politician show ardent advocacy for the brutalization of Eastern Europe aliens while still supporting the unlawful persecution of Black American citizens?

anti-lynching law, editorial, lynching