Connect with us

Politics

President Biden signs the “Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act”

‘Hate never goes away; it only hides under the rocks- All of us have to stop it’

Published

on

President Joe Biden. (Screen capture via NBC News)

In a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House Tuesday, President Joe Biden signed H.R. 55, the “Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act,” into law making lynching a federal hate crime.

The President was joined by civil rights leaders and members of Congress, including Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), who authored the bill in the House and the Vice President, Kamala Harris, who co-sponsored a version of the bill when she served in the U.S. Senate.

In their remarks the President and Vice-President recognized Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the lone two Black senators, for their work in getting the law passed by the Senate earlier this month by unanimous consent, meaning every senator signed off on it moving forward without objection.

President Biden Signs Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act Into Law:

Remarks by President Biden at Signing of H.R. 55, the “Emmett Till Antilynching Act”

Thank you.  It’s a little unusual to do the bill signing, not say anything and then speak, but that’s how we set it up. 

Well, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.  I just signed into law the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act, making lynching — (applause) — a federal hate crime for the first time in American history.

I want to thank Vice President Harris who was a key co-sponsor of this bill when she was a United States senator.  (Applause.)

And I also want to thank Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer and members of the Congress here today, especially Congressman Hoyer and Bobby Rush, Senator Dick Durbin and Cory Booker.  (Applause.)  I — I also want to thank Senator Tim Scott, who couldn’t be here today.

And the civil rights leaders gathered here today and, most of all, the family of Emmett Till and Ida B. Wells: Thank you for never giving up.  Never, ever giving up.  (Applause.)

Matter of fact, her [great]-granddaughter told me that her mother was here — when? —

MS. DUSTER:  (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  — I mean, your [great]-grandmother was here — when? —

MS. DUSTER:  It was in 1898.

THE PRESIDENT:  In 1898, in order to make a case for the antilynching law.  It was over 100 years ago, in 1900, when a North Carolina Representative named George Henry White — the son of a slave; the only Black lawmaker in Congress at the time — who first introduced legislation to make lynching a federal crime.

Hundreds — hundreds of similar bills have failed to pass.

Over the years, several federal hate crime laws were enacted, including one I signed last year to combat COVID-19 hate crimes.  But no federal law — no federal law expressly prohibited lynching.  None.  Until today.  (Applause.)

One of the leading chronicles of our history of lynching is Bryan Stevenson, who happens to be a Delawarean from my home state, who wanted very much to be here today but he could not. 

He helped build the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama — America’s first site dedicated to understanding the legacy of lynching.

You know, his extensive research showed that between 1877 and 1950, more than 4,400 Black people were murdered by lynching, most in the South but some in the North as well.  That’s a lot of folks, man, and a lot of silence for a long time.

Lynching was pure terror to enforce the lie that not everyone — not everyone belongs in America and not everyone is created equal; terror to systematically undermine hard — hard-fought civil rights; terror not just in the dark of the night
but in broad daylight.

Innocent men, women, and children hung by nooses from trees.  Bodies burned and drowned and castrated.

Their crimes?  Trying to vote.  Trying to go to school.  To try and own a business or preach the Gospel.  False accusations of murder, arson, and robbery.  Simply being Black.

Often the crowds of white families gathered to celebrate the spectacle, taking pictures of the bodies and mailing them as postcards.

Emmett Till was an only child.  He grew up on the South Side of Chicago with his mother, Mamie, and grandparents and cousins.

In the summer of 1955, Emmett turned 14 years old, ready to start eighth grade in the fall.  Before school started, he wanted to visit his cousins in Mississippi.  So Emmett’s mom dropped him off at the train station in Chicago.  Her own family fled the Delta decades earlier, so she told him — she told him the unwritten rules he had to follow.  Quote, “Be very careful how you speak.  Say ‘yes sir’ and ‘no ma’am’, and do not hesitate to be — to humble yourself if you have to get down on your knees”.  End of quote.

That same speech, that same admonition — too many Black parents today still have to use that admonition.  They have to tell their children when it comes to encounters with the law enforcement.  You know, and so many other circumstances.

She kissed Emmett goodbye.  It was the last time she saw her son alive.

Days after he arrived in Mississippi, Emmett’s mutilated body was found in a river, barbed wire tied around his neck and a 75-pound cotton gin fan attached to that wire as he was thrown into the river.

Emmett’s mother — his mother demanded that her son be sent home so that his funeral in Chicago could be an open casket.

Here’s what she said: “Let the people see what I’ve seen.”  America and the world saw what she saw. 

Emmett Till was born nearly 40 years ago after the first antilynching law was introduced.  Although he was one of thousands who were lynched, his mother courage — his mother’s courage to show the world what was done to him energized the Civil Rights Movement. 

Exactly 100 days later, Rosa Parks was arrested on the bus in Montgomery.  Her statue sits in my office.  She said, “I thought of Emmett Till and I couldn’t go back.”  “I thought of Emmett Till and I couldn’t go back.” 

Dr. King often preached about, quote, “the crying voices of little Emmett Till, screaming from the rushes of the Mississippi.”

To the Till family: We remain in awe of your courage to find purpose through your pain.  To find purpose to through your pain.  But the law is not just about the past, it’s about the present and our future as well.

From the bullets in the back of Ahmaud Arbery to countless other acts of violence — countless victims known and unknown — the same racial hatred that drove the mob to hang a noose brought that mob carrying torches out of the fields of Charlottesville just a few years go.

Racial hate isn’t an old problem; it’s a persistent problem.  A persistent problem.  And I know many of the civil rights leaders here know, and you heard me say it a hundred times: Hate never goes away; it only hides.  It hides under the rocks.  And given just a little bit of oxygen, it comes roaring back out, screaming.  But what stops it is all of us, not a few.  All of us have to stop it.

People like Ida B. Wells, one of the founders of the NAACP, established 100 years ago in response to racial terror across the country.  A brilliant, gifted writer, she exposed the barbaric nature of lyn- — of lynching as a tool to intimidate and subjugate Black Americans.

And her words, her courage, her convictions — she was trying to prevent the murders of Emmett Till and Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others — over 4,400 others. 

Ida B. — Ida B. Wells once said, quote, “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon the wrongs.”  “Turn the light of truth upon the wrongs.”

That’s what all of you have done, gathered in this Rose Garden, with this bill and so much more, including Ida B. Wells’s great-granddaughter, Michelle Duster, whom I’m honored to introduce to mark this historic day.

Michelle, welcome to the White House, and welcome to the podium.  And as my mother would say: God love you, dear.

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

Congress

Anti-LGBTQ provisions removed from NDAA

New version omits restriction on gender affirming care, book and drag bans

Published

on

U.S. Capitol Building (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Anti-LGBTQ provisions submitted by House Republicans to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) have been removed from the defense spending bill, triggering outrage from conservative lawmakers and praise from LGBTQ groups.

The conference version of the bill was released on Thursday.

This week saw the revocation of two measures targeting gender affirming care along with the book ban and drag ban. Language stipulating the list of approved flags that can be flown at military bases was amended such that more flags can be added on a discretionary basis.

“MAGA members of Congress tried to hijack the National Defense Authorization Act to advance their anti-LGBTQ+ agenda, attempting to riddle it with discriminatory riders,” Human Rights Campaign National Press Secretary Brandon Wolf said in a statement to the Washington Blade.

His statement continued, “They failed and equality won. Anti-LGBTQ+ provisions, including efforts to restrict access to gender affirming care, were rejected. The anti-LGBTQ+ agenda continues to be deeply unpopular across the country and a failing political strategy.”

Wolf thanked U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) for “defending equality and defeating attacks on the community.”

Pledging to vote “no” on the bill, Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) said in a post on X, “I was appointed to the NDAA conference committee but NEVER got to work on the final version of the NDAA bc they made the deal behind closed doors and here are the horrible results.”

Continue Reading

Congress

New bill would protect LGBTQ-owned businesses from lending discrimination

Legislation introduced by Sens. Padilla, Gillibrand and Rep. Torres

Published

on

U.S. Capitol
U.S. Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A bicameral bill introduced on Wednesday by U.S. Sens. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), along with U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) would require financial institutions to collect data on access to credit and capital by LGBTQ-owned businesses.

The legislation would thereby allow regulators to better identify and potentially remedy instances of anti-LGBTQ discrimination in these areas.

CNBC reported in June that a study by the Movement Advancement Project found LGBTQ-owned businesses encountered more rejections than non-LGBTQ-owned businesses that applied for funding, amid a tightening of lending standards across the board.

Specifically, the bill would “clarify that Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) requires financial institutions to collect the self-identified sexual orientation and gender identity of the principal owners of small businesses, in addition to their sex, race, and ethnicity,” according to a press release by Padilla’s office.

The California senator said, “With anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and hate crimes on the rise, LGBTQ+ business owners continue to face persistent and unjust barriers to financial success,” adding that “LGBTQ+-owned small businesses are a cornerstone of local economies, and they deserve equitable resources to help them grow and thrive.”

Padilla’s press release notes the legislation “would also add a definition for businesses owned by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex individuals to the ECOA statute.”

Additionally, “The legislation also includes a Sense of Congress confirming that sexual orientation and gender identity are already covered under the ECOA (including the current data collection requirements)” while clarifying “that the sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity of the principal owners of a business should be collected as three separate forms of information.”

The Congressional Equality Caucus, Ali Forney Center, Center for American Progress, Destination Tomorrow, Drag Out The Vote, Human Rights Campaign, Immigration Equality Action Fund, InterAct, and New Pride Agenda have backed the bill.

Continue Reading

Politics

Endocrine Society corrects misinformation about gender affirming care at GOP debate

Presidential candidates clashed in Ala. on Wednesday.

Published

on

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) (Screen capture/NBC News)

The Endocrine Society, the world’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to the clinical practice of endocrinology, released a statement correcting misinformation about gender affirming healthcare that was spread at the fourth Republican presidential primary debate on Wednesday night.

The group said comments in which Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) characterized care for transgender and gender-diverse youth as child abuse and genital mutilation “do not reflect the health care landscape” and contradict “mainstream medical practice and scientific evidence.”

“Pediatric gender-affirming care is designed to take a conservative approach,” the Endocrine Society wrote. “When young children experience feelings that their gender identity does not match the sex recorded at birth, the first course of action is to support the child in exploring their gender identity and to provide mental health support, as needed.”

The statement continues, “Medical intervention is reserved for older adolescents and adults, with treatment plans tailored to the individual and designed to maximize the time teenagers and their families have to make decisions about their transitions.”

Notwithstanding the remarks by DeSantis, other debate participants, and moderator Megyn Kelly, “gender-affirming genital surgery is rarely offered to anyone under the age of 18,” the statement says.

Additionally, “More than 2,000 scientific studies have examined aspects of gender-affirming care since 1975, including more than 260 studies cited in the Endocrine Society’s Clinical Practice Guideline.”

Other major scientific and medical groups like the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics are “in alignment” with the Endocrine Society on “the importance of gender affirming care,” the statement notes.

Further, research shows it “can be life saving for a population with high suicide rates.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade

Advertisement

Popular