An old cruelty now a crime


Photo used with permission from Fibonacci Blue.

On what would have been his 80th birthday on July 25, 2021, protestors gathered in Minnesota for justice for Emmett Till and other Black lives.

Katrell Readus is a junior and a reporter for the Fishers Tiger Times. Their views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper. 

   “It was pure terror, to enforce the lie that not everyone — not everyone belongs in America, not everyone is created equal,” President Joe Biden said. “Terror, to systematically undermine hard-fought civil rights, terror, not just in the dark of night but in broad daylight. Innocent men, women and children, hung by nooses, from trees, bodies burned and drowned, castrated.”

   President Biden delivered these lines on Tuesday in reference to lynching (a practice used to murder and terrorize the Black community in the U.S., that began in the 1880s) after signing the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, making it a hate crime under federal law.

   Legislation like this has been brought upon the desks of elected officials over 200 times, the first being introduced more than 100 years ago. However, the people America has placed its trust in when it comes to crafting and passing legislation for the betterment and safety of its people, all people have failed until now to avow to end a practice that has plagued generations of Black citizens. 

   This oversight on the part of our court system left countless Black bodies battered, burned and publicly displayed like an ornament in trees for centuries. Not until this week has this stain in the fabric of American history been addressed in a way that shows those affected by it that it will not be allowed to further encroach on their lives without the threat of punishment, Though it will never be eradicated from our minds.

   This idea was further brought by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on the Senate floor. 

   “While this [the Act] will not erase the horrific injustices to which 10s of 1000s of African Americans have been subjected over the generations, nor fully heal the terror inflicted on countless others, it is an important step forward as we continue the work of confronting our nation’s past in pursuit of a brighter and more just future,” said Schumer. 

   The Acts namesake, Lynching victim Emmet Till’s family was able to take some relief from the passing of this new legislation. The Black community was able to exhale a breath alongside them knowing that the pain inflicted by fruitless injustice and misplaced hatred was now a crime recognized and formally denounced by the ancestors of its inflictors.   

   After the House passed the bill. Rep. Bobby L. Rush, the man that introduced the Bill 67 years after he, as a young Black boy saw the photograph of Emmett Till’s brutalized body in Jet Magazine, believes this Act conveys a message.

   “By passing my Emmett Till Antilynching Act, the House has sent a resounding message that our nation is finally reckoning with one of the darkest and most horrific periods of our history and that we are morally and legally committed to changing course.”