Today, President Biden signed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act into law, bringing to a conclusion a century-long and multigenerational campaign to employ the federal government’s significant powers against lynching—a distinctly American form of anti-Black violence and terrorism.
In response, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) President and Director-Counsel Janai S. Nelson issued the following statement:
“After decades of thwarted efforts and inaction, the federal government will now recognize lynching for what it is and has always been: a violent form of anti-Black terrorism that the government must combat with all of the power at its disposal.
“Today, 67 years after a 14-year-old child named Emmett Till was beaten, tortured, and murdered by a gang of white supremacists who then dumped his body into the Tallahatchie River, the U.S. government has finally taken its first real steps toward acknowledging the historical fact of widespread lynching—a phenomenon whose memory continues to haunt Black communities and stain the history of this country.
“We commend Congress and President Biden for passing this long-overdue bill and signing it into law, and for sending a clear message that the U.S. government is committed to deterring this pernicious form of targeted violence. We are also grateful for the unflinching courage of Mamie Till, Emmett Till’s mother, who forced this country to confront with the evil of lynching by sharing her grief and her son’s suffering with the world by choosing an open-casket funeral. The eponymous Act passed in his name today is proof that her bravery continues to be seen.”
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Follow LDF on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.