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  • Despite repeated attempts in the past to pass a federal anti-lynching bill by seven presidents from 1890 to 1952, the Senate consistently vetoed the proposal.

    Despite repeated attempts in the past to pass a federal anti-lynching bill by seven presidents from 1890 to 1952, the Senate consistently vetoed the proposal. | Photo: Reuters

Published 19 December 2018

Between 1982 and 1968, 4,745 lynchings were executed primarily against African-Americans in impunity.

A unanimous vote in the U.S. Senate has declared lynching a federal crime after 200 attempts and over 100 years of struggle, Washington announced Wednesday.

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"This has been a long arc, a painful history and a shameful history in this body...At least now, the United States Senate has now acted. One hundred senators, no objections," said New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who was present on the panel introducing the bill earlier this year.

Booker, together with two other African-American senators, Kamala Harris, D-Calif.and Tim Scott, R-S.C., proposed the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act which potentially carries a life-time prison sentence for what the bill describes as, "the ultimate expression of racism in the United States.”

Between 1982 and 1968, 4,745 lynchings were executed primarily against the African-American community with “99% of all perpetrators” escaping punishment by state or local officials, NPR reported. Despite repeated attempts in the past to pass a federal anti-lynching bill by seven presidents from 1890 to 1952, the Senate consistently vetoed the proposal.

On her personal Twitter account, Harris wrote, “Lynching is a dark, despicable part of our history, and we must acknowledge that, lest we repeat it. Thank you to my colleagues for agreeing to unanimously pass our Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, and @CoryBooker and @SenatorTimScott for your partnership.”

Brooker, who is considered a strong contender for the 2020 presidential elections, said, “For over a century members of Congress have attempted to pass some version of a bill that would recognize lynching for what it is, a bias, motivated act of terror ... We do know the passage of this bill, even though it cannot reverse irrevocable harm that lynching was used as a terror of suppression, the passage of this bill is a recognition of that dark past.

“We have an opportunity to recognize the wrongs of our history, to honor the memories of those brutally killed, and to leave a legacy that future generations can look back on knowing that after 200 attempts, and a century of trying, that on this day in American history, this body did the right thing," Brooker said.

According to reports, there will be some delay as the bill will likely have to be reintroduced and passed through the Senate and the House once more, due to time constraints experienced during the Congressional session. However, with a unanimous vote, it’s unlikely there will be any difficulty passing the legislation a second time.

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