First-Ever National Conference on Lynching Held in New York City
The National Conference on Lynching, which began on this day in New York City, marked the beginning of a decades-long but ultimately unsuccessful campaign for a federal anti-lynching law. An estimated 2,500 people, both African-American and white, attended the three-day conference. Charles Evans Hughes, former Supreme Court Justice and 1916 Republican presidential candidate, was the keynote speaker. On April 1, 1918, Rep. Leonidas Dyer (R–Missouri) had introduced an anti-lynching bill in the House of Representatives.
The conference had some political impact. On April 21, 1921, President Warren G. Harding sent a civil rights message to Congress calling for a federal law that would end “barbaric lynching.”
Congress never passed that bill or any other anti-lynching bill, however. On June 13, 2005, the U.S. Senate issued a formal apology for never passing an anti-lynching bill.
Read about the conference and the summer of racial violence: Cameron McWhirter, Red Summer: The Summer of 1919 and the Awakening of Black Americans (2011)
Learn more about the NAACP anti-lynching campaign: http://www.naacp.org/pages/naacp-history-anti-lynching-bill
Read the 2015 report on the number of lynchings: Equal Justice Initiative, Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror (2015)
Learn more about the Dyer anti-lynching bill: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/dyer-anti-lynching-bill-1922
See the horrors of lynching: Dora Apel and Shawn Smith, Lynching Photographs (2007)