Congress has tried but failed to pass anti-lynching legislation roughly 200 times since 1918.
Although the Senate passed a resolution apologizing to lynching victims, it has not passed legislation making lynching a federal crime — until now.
Senators Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Tim Scott introduced a bill making lynching punishable as a hate crime which was passed Wednesday according to The Hill.
“This is a historic piece of legislation that would criminalize lynching, attempts to lynch and conspiracy to lynch for the first time in America’s history. Lynching is part of the dark and despicable aspect of our country’s history that followed slavery and many other outrages in our country,” Harris said.
The moment when the United States Senate agreed unanimously to make lynching a federal crime for the first time. History. pic.twitter.com/MtoI0Or0mg
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) December 19, 2018
Booker also spoke on the bill’s passing, saying that the bill is “a very long time coming.”
“For over a century members of Congress have attempted to pass some version of a bill that would recognize lynching for what it is, a bias, motivated act of terror…We do know the passage of this bill, even though it cannot reverse irrevocable harm that lynching was used as a terror of suppression, the passage of this bill is a recognition of that dark past,” Booker said.
35 senators formally co-sponsored the bill alongside Harris, Booker and Scott. The bill was introduced in july and cleared unanimously in October by the Judiciary Committee. It passed the full Senate by voice note.