U.S. Senate Resolution 39 Apologizes for Inaction
On June 13, 2005, senators of the 109th Congressional Session adopted Resolution 39, apologizing for failing to enact legislation against lynching, a barbaric practice that occurred throughout the United States but overwhelmingly occurred in the Southern states of the U.S., one hundred five years after the first anti lynching legislation was proposed in 1900. Less than one percent of the perpetrators of the crime of lynching were indicted and brought to court to stand trial.
Beginning in 1900, 200 anti-lynching bills were introduced to the legislature, with three bills passing in the House of Representatives in 1937, 1940 and 1949 and being sent on to the Senate. None of the bills was ever adopted.
On a personal note, since I did file this story under People, the first year anti-lynching legislation was submitted, 1900, was the year of my maternal grandmother's birth in Maryland, 35 years after the abolition of slavery.
When anti-lynching legislation had been introduced, senators from Southern states argued, on the Senate floor, that to enact such legislation would infringe on individual states' rights, with still others arguing the brutal custom to be a necessary tool to assure control of the Negro.
As of the date of the adoption of Resolution 39, 19 Republicans and one Democrat refused to co-sponsor the anti lynching resolution.
The victim was brought from Arkansas to Paris, Texas by train, with spectators boarding the train in route to the destination. After his arrival in Paris, Texas, he was put on a carnival float, paraded through town, followed by the crowd and taken to a scaffold on the fairgrounds where he was tortured and lynched.
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In 1946, the last known mass lynching of four African Americans, two married couples, occurred in Georgia. Recent developments in 2008 have led to the collection of evidence that may aid in the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators of this crime.
It is hoped with passage of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act, establishing an agency that will focus it's efforts on past civil rights crimes that were not thoroughly investigated or prosecuted, will be a tool that will help bring those who committed this crime to justice.
In June 2007, the House of Representatives passed the legislation 422 - 2. Upon reaching the Senate, the bill was stalled in the Senate by Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma. He has stated he will no longer block the bill's passage.
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States