2005 June 13

Senate Apologizes for Never Passing Anti-Lynching Law


Eighty U.S. Senators officially apologized for the fact that the Senate never passed an anti-lynching bill. The first bill making lynching a federal crime was introduced in the House of Representatives on April 1, 1918, and the first national conference on lynching was held in New York City on May 5, 1919. In the 1920s and 1930s the anti-lynching bill was one of the major issues for the NAACP, although its efforts were never successful.

Missing from the list of senators signing the apology were the two from the state that had the most lynching incidents in American history: Mississippi.

On April 20, 1939, the great jazz singer Billie Holiday recorded the famous anti-lynching song, “Strange Fruit.”

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), co-sponsor of the resolution: “There may be no other injustice in American history for which the Senate so uniquely bears responsibility.”

Examine a collection of photographs of lynchings: Dora Apell and Shawn Smith, Lynching Photographs (2007)

Read the 2015 report on the number of lynchings: Equal  Justice Initiative, Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror (2015)

Watch a documentary on the history of lynching in America: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYFqv_mRMPI

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