The only three African-American senators currently serving in the United States teamed up Friday to introduce a bill that would finally make lynching a federal crime.
The bill, called the “Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2018,” was introduced by Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC).
“Lynching is a dark, despicable part of our history, and we must acknowledge that, lest we repeat it,” Harris said in a statement. “From 1882 to 1986 there have been 200 attempts that have failed to get Congress to pass federal anti-lynching legislation, it’s time for that to change.”
After all these previous attempts, which date back to 1918, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said that he would be on-board with the federal criminalization of lynching.
“I thought that was done back during LBJ or some period like that,” he said. “But if we need one at the federal level, I certainly would support it.”
“This measure is certainly well past due and I am glad to be able to join in efforts that will underscore the severity of this crime,” Sen. Scott said in a statement. “This piece of legislation sends a message that together, as a nation, we condemn the actions of those that try to divide us with violence and hate.”
The piece of legislation was also introduced by a host of other Senators including Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) and many more.
According to data provided by Harris' office from the Equal Justice Initiative, there were more than 4,000 lynchings of African-African men, women, and children in the late 19th and 20th centuries.
Similar legislation was introduced last week in the House of Representatives by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL).
“It’s a travesty that despite repeated attempts to do so, Congress still hasn’t put anti-lynching legislation on the books,” Booker said. “This bill will right historical wrongs by acknowledging our country’s stained past and codifying into law our commitment to abolishing this shameful practice."