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President Biden signs Emmett Till Anti-Lynching bill into law

More than 130 years after Memphis civil rights leader Ida B. Wells first advocated to ban lynching, President Joe Biden will officially make lynching a hate crime.
2-5-20 – ida b wells

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will sign the Emmett Till Anti-lynching act into law Tuesday at the White House, with family members of both Till and Memphis civil rights activist Ida B. Wells. 

Wells' great-grandson, Daniel Duster, will be present to witness the signing, which will make lynching a federal crime and will allow cases to be investigated at a higher level. 

Dr. LaSimba Gray, a member of the Ida B. Wells memorial committee, will also be present to witness the signing.

“It is fortuitous that 130 years after the death of anti-lynching activist, Ida B. Wells, the family of Wells can claim some measure of victory as President Biden signs the Anti-lynching bill into law,” said Gray. “This law serves as validation that Ida B. Wells dramatically changed the course of history.”

RELATED: Memphis honors Ida B. Wells by renaming street

Watch the event here: 

Congress first considered an anti-lynching bill in 1900, when it was introduced by Rep. George White R-(N.C.) – the only African American then in Congress. The effort was unsuccessful.

Since then, members of Congress have introduced more than 240 anti-lynching bills, most recently in 2018 and 2020. All have failed.

RELATED: W.C. Handy, Sam Cooke, Ida B. Wells among those to be inducted into Mississippi museum's Hall of Fame

On March 9, 2022, the Senate unanimously passed legislation to make lynching – extralegal execution by mob action – a federal hate crime, less than a month after the House passed the bill.

The Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act is named after Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American boy who, in August 1955, was lynched in Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white woman.

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