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Hopeful Anti-Lynching Legislation Marks End of Century-Long Battle for Justice

December 20, 2018




Thursday, December 20, 2018


Hopeful Anti-Lynching Legislation Marks End of Century-Long Battle for Justice

A statement by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.


After more than 100 years of struggle and defeat, the United States Senate – led by its three African American members – has moved the country a giant step closer to making the abomination of lynching a federal crime.


The Senate Wednesday unanimously approved the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act.


Every American who cherishes justice and democracy should be gratified that even in these divisive times, common sense and right will eventually prevail. The bill was not only bipartisan. It was bi-costal. It was introduced by Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.).


It is long overdue. Lynching is racial domestic terrorism.


Last spring, I was honored to attend the Montgomery, Ala. opening of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a haunting reminder of how far we have come and how far we still must go.


Today, African Americans live with entrenched and savage inequalities: greater poverty, greater unemployment and lower life spans. As a result of these racist legacies, African American men are most likely to be stopped by police, most likely to be jailed if detained and most likely to be shot by police.


The Memorial, brainchild of the extraordinary civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson, features 800 steel monuments, suspended from a high ceiling, one for each county where a lynching occurred. Each is engraved with the names of the victims – some 4,400 American men, women and children.


I was profoundly moved as I walked among their ghosts. I was also deeply pained to realize that lynching was still not a federal crime. The Rainbow PUSH Coalition immediately began a lobbying effort, joining forces with Illinois Congressmen Bobby Rush and Danny Davis and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, to make anti-lynching legislation a political as well as moral priority.


Lynching is one of the most heinous forms of terrorism America has ever known, committed against its own citizens. The NAACP was born in part out of an effort to make lynching a federal crime. Congress has tried but failed more than 200 times to pass anti-lynching legislation.


We are hopeful that this legislation will mark the end of a century-long battle.



Don Terry


Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international organization that was formed in December 1996 by the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. through merging of two organizations he founded Operation PUSH People United to Serve Humanity (estab. 1971) and the Rainbow Coalition (estab. 1984). With headquarters in Chicago and offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Oakland, the organization works to make the American Dream a reality for all citizens while advocating for peace and justice around the world. RPC is dedicated to improving the lives of all people by serving as a voice for the voiceless. Its mission is to protect, defend and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields while promoting peace and justice around the world.


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