WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) spoke on the House Floor today in support of the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, which passed the House with bipartisan support. Below are excerpts of his remarks and a link to the video.
Click here to watch the video.
“I am pleased this will be a bipartisan vote. This is about Emmett Till. It's about lynching. It's about violence. It's about hate. But in a larger sense, this is about who we are as a country, who we are as a country that said ‘we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.’ …To the surprise, I think, of probably many Americans, Madam Speaker, lynching has not been described as a hate crime. We will do that today… The House will make that determination today. I’m proud to bring this legislation to the Floor as Majority Leader.”
“I want to thank Representative Rush, Chairman Nadler, Ranking Member Collins, the Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass, and the CBC itself. The Senate passed a similar bill last year, and I thank Senators Booker and Harris for their work. I hope we can get this to the President's desk and signed quickly. It's very fitting this legislation will be named in memory of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old whose brutal lynching in 195 marked a turning point in America’s history. Many Americans might associate the term lynching with hanging, but if you go to the dictionary, it has a broader definition. The premeditated, extrajudicial killing by a mob or group of people in order to instill fear, to intimidate, to subjugate populations and individuals, and enforce a social order on people contrary to the concepts out of which America was born.”
“According to the Tuskegee Institute, by the time of Emmett Till's murder, it recorded more than 4,700 victims of lynching in America since the 1880’s. A Civil War, a 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendment, and still from 1870 to the 1960’s, there were people who thought with impunity they could take the lives or brutalize others with impunity. Even today, we continue to see the memory of lynching used to instill fear and threaten minority populations. From nooses being displayed as hate speech to threats of political violence using imagery of lynching, we still live with its dark legacy. My colleagues, as we continue to observe Black History Month throughout February, let us resolve to commemorate that history by doing our part to correct its injustices.
“I paraphrase Martin Luther King when he said, do not worry so much about the voices of your opponents as you worry about the silence of your friends. This day, the House of Representatives shall not be silent. Vote yes.”