A month after President Joe Biden signed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act into law, Assemblymembers Angela McKnight (D-Jersey City), Gary Schaer (D-Passaic), and Benjie Wimberly (D-Paterson) have introduced a resolution in the State Assembly in support of the new national law.
“We know that nothing will erase the fear instilled in Black communities with every act of lynching that was committed,” McKnight said in a statement. “The passage and signing of this legislation was a long overdue acknowledgment of the lives lost, past and present. In the future, heinous acts such as lynching against anyone because of their race, color or any other identifier will come with its own harsh penalty.”
Named for the 14-year-old Black boy who was murdered in Mississippi in 1955, the Emmett Till Act updates existing law to define lynching as a hate crime.
After being proposed in various forms hundreds of times throughout congressional history, the act – which was sponsored by New Jersey’s own Cory Booker in the U.S. Senate – finally passed through Congress near-unanimously this winter and was signed by Biden in March.
“Lynchings were the ubiquitous threat of violence that supported Jim Crow’s lawless order,” Schaer said. “Through this legislation, the United States is reckoning with the pain of the past and addressing the alarming rise in hate crimes to create a more equitable future.”