For more than 100 years, members of Congress have tried — over 200 times — to make lynching a federal crime.
Yesterday, I introduced the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act with several of my colleagues. And for the second year in a row, the Senate unanimously passed the bill.
But last year, the Republican-controlled House refused to even consider it. Now, with Democrats in charge of the House, I’m confident that this bill will land on the president’s desk. It’s time for our government to finally recognize lynching for what it is: a racist act of terror.
Lynchings weren’t only vicious murders against individuals — they were used to terrorize entire communities and make them submit to second-class citizenship.
It’s an ugly part of our history, and its legacy doesn’t just live in our past. What I’ve come to learn about American history is that when wrongs are covered up or ignored completely, they fester like boils under the body politic — and they still very much hurt.
The terror of lynching is nothing new, and unfortunately, we’re seeing the forces of hate increase their efforts and act more brazenly in recent years.
We know that the passage of this bill will not erase the damage and the pain of our history. But if we don’t recognize and reconcile with our past, we’ll never be able to come together and heal the incredible amount of hurt and trauma so many Americans still feel today.