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Ole Miss Reacts to U.S. House Passing Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act

Since 1900, Congress has repeatedly proposed bills to make lynching a federal hate crime, and every time they failed. But, as of Wednesday, February 26, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed The Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act.

In a bipartisan vote of 410 to 4, the House sent the bill to the Senate for its approval. Many say the legislation is overdue.

“The passing of the bill for lynching is definitely recognizing what we should have done a long time ago. And, I hope that it’s the start of recognizing other hate crimes,” said Ole Miss student Jeffery Patton.

Emmett Till was a 14-year-old African American youth who was murdered in Mississippi by two white men in 1955. The new bill in Till’s name serves as a reminder that it takes time to make progress.

“Passage of this anti-lynching measure, and naming it for Emmett Till, sends the message that we will never forget his tragic death, and we will not tolerate bigotry,” said Tennessee Congressman Steven Cohen in a press release.

African American studies professor Owen Hymen says Americans are still wrestling with the uglier parts of the country’s history.

“People think that, ‘Oh, well, we’ve left this all behind,’ but it’s really not that far in the past at all,” said Hyman.

Patton sees the bill as progress but wants to see more change.

“I hope it doesn’t take another hundred some odd years to address issues of today,” said Patton.

The Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act bill will now go to the Senate. If approved there it will then make its way to President Trump’s desk where he is expected to sign the bill into law.

Contributed by JT Butts and Rhylan Hillis
jbutts@go.olemiss.edu rhillis@go.olemiss.edu

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