It took over a century, but the Senate has finally passed an anti-lynching bill.

All three Black senators, Democrats Cory Booker (NJ) and Kamala Harris (CA) and Republican Tim Scott (SC), worked together to push The Justice for Victims of Lynching Act through their chamber, The Hill reports.

The unanimous vote the bill received shows this is something on which the whole Senate can agree.

“Today is an emotional and historic day,” Booker said in a press release sent to Blavity. “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. And for more than a century, and more than 200 attempts, this body has failed. Today, we have righted that wrong and taken corrective action that recognizes this stain on our country’s history.”

Booker acknowledges the law doesn’t undo the harm caused by lynching, but hopes this effort will bring some comfort.

“This bill will not undo the damage, the terror, and the violence that has been already done, nor will it bring back the lives that have been brutally taken,” he added. “But it will acknowledge the wrongs in our history. It will honor the memories of those so brutally killed.”

Harris expressed similar sentiments.

“Lynchings were needless and horrendous acts of violence that were motivated by racism. And we must acknowledge that fact, lest we repeat it,” she said. “From 1882 to 1986, Congress failed to pass anti-lynching legislation when it had an opportunity 200 times. Today, by passing this bill, we have offered some long overdue justice and recognition to the victims of lynching crimes."

The bill was introduced in July and passed the Judiciary Committee in October. It makes lynching a federal hate crime, according to the Daily Beast. Anyone convicted of lynching due to the bill could face life behind bars.

It must now pass the House; as the legislative session is nearly over for the year, the bill might need to be reintroduced next year during the next Congress. It is expected to pass the 2019 House, which will have a Democratic majority, easily. It will then be up to President Trump to sign it into law.


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