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Lynching-How it occurs in trees and in the fight for justice

Updated: Aug 13

2020- We still continue to see the lynching of African Americans being downplayed and disregarded.


It’s 2020, yet African American’s are still being openly lynched and the perpetrators of the act are still walking freely. We search for answers just to be met with the unsettling response of “the cause of death has been ruled a suicide.” Those words are enough to gut any African American as we see ourselves in every black victim found lifeless, hanging from trees. We wonder will we be next, or will a loved one be next. Out of all of the racial advances that have been made since slavery and Jim Crow laws, one would assume that in the year 2020, 2 years after an anti lynching bill was passed through the Senate in the fight to make lynching a FEDERAL CRIME that our people would not continue to be lynched.


We assume that policy sparks change, however, in this case power reigns supreme.


If the laws can’t protect us, then what can? The enforcement of Civil and Human Rights laws is grossly neglected—African Americans are left hanging to dry, whether it be from a tree or from any other criminal justice institution.


In June of 2018, Kamala D. Harris introduced a bill to the United States Senate calling for lynching to be made a federal crime. The 115th Congress of the US met on 12/19/2018 to clearly define lynching as a “deprivation of civil rights.” Harris also proposed that the act be called “Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2018.”


In drafting and enacting the bill Congress made note of some peculiar facts (if you would like to review these facts as well as the Act you can visit congress.gov). These are the facts that stood at to me:


  1. 99% of all perpetrators escaped punishment by local or state officials

  2. Nearly 200 anti-lynching bills were introduced to Congress in the first half of the 20th century

  3. Between 1890 and 1952 7 presidents petitioned Congress to end lynching

  4. Between 1920 and 1940 , the House of Representatives passed “3 strong anti-lynching measures”

  5. Congress acknowledged the failure to enact anti-lynching legislation


The act concisely defines lynching and it’s punishment.


On December 19,2018 the anti lynching bill was passed through the the United States Senate. What good does it do to simply discuss laws that lay out what illegal acts are and what punishments should follow instead of actually signing the laws into action. A hate crime that should be punished as so.


How is it possible that these modern day lynchings are being ruled suicides? Do officials really believe that African Americans are purposely leaving their homes to publicly commit suicide? Are we really that naive to think that there is not more to the story? Better yet do the “investigators” really believe that we are that gullible ?


In times of heightened racial tension, to investigate lynchings without bias is a blatant denial of justice for the victims.


Perpetrators of lynching are engaging in inhumane acts that not only result in the loss of life but the “humiliation” and public display of their bodies. We are well aware of the general consensus in terms of what message is being portrayed by leaving African American bodies hanging on display.

Lynching is another attempt to maintain racial hierarchy in the United States. Individuals who hold positions that can enforce the law know that lynching is wrong, yet victims are still being denied justice just as they were back during the Jim Crow era. When will someone step up and use their power to be a voice for the voiceless.


The number of African Americans who have been lynched in the United States in endless, but we should continue in the fight for extensive investigations, for these crimes to be called what they are-murder, and for them to be prosecuted as such.


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