Here are the remarks from the Rose Garden
THE PRESIDENT: (The bill is signed.) All right. It’s law. (Applause.)
(The President moves to the podium.)
Thank you. It’s a little unusual to do the bill signing, not say anything and then speak, but that’s how we set it up.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. I just signed into law the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, making lynching — (applause) — a federal hate crime for the first time in American history.
I want to thank Vice President Harris who was a key co-sponsor of this bill when she was a United States senator. (Applause.)
And I also want to thank Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer and members of the Congress here today, especially Congressman Hoyer and Bobby Rush, Senator Dick Durbin and Cory Booker. (Applause.) I — I also want to thank Senator Tim Scott, who couldn’t be here today.
And the civil rights leaders gathered here today and, most of all, the family of Emmett Till and Ida B. Wells: Thank you for never giving up. Never, ever giving up. (Applause.)
Matter of fact, her [great]-granddaughter told me that her mother was here — when? —
MS. DUSTER: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: — I mean, your [great]-grandmother was here — when? —
MS. DUSTER: It was in 1898.
THE PRESIDENT: In 1898, in order to make a case for the antilynching law. It was over 100 years ago, in 1900, when a North Carolina Representative named George Henry White — the son of a slave; the only Black lawmaker in Congress at the time — who first introduced legislation to make lynching a federal crime.
Hundreds — hundreds of similar bills have failed to pass.
Over the years, several federal hate crime laws were enacted, including one I signed last year to combat COVID-19 hate crimes. But no federal law — no federal law expressly prohibited lynching. None. Until today. (Applause.)
One of the leading chronicles of our history of lynching is Bryan Stevenson, who happens to be a Delawarean from my home state, who wanted very much to be here today but he could not.
He helped build the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama — America’s first site dedicated to understanding the legacy of lynching.
You know, his extensive research showed that between 1877 and 1950, more than 4,400 Black people were murdered by lynching, most in the South but some in the North as well. That’s a lot of folks, man, and a lot of silence for a long time.
Lynching was pure terror to enforce the lie that not everyone — not everyone belongs in America and not everyone is created equal; terror to systematically undermine hard — hard-fought civil rights; terror not just in the dark of the night
but in broad daylight.
Innocent men, women, and children hung by nooses from trees. Bodies burned and drowned and castrated.
Their crimes? Trying to vote. Trying to go to school. To try and own a business or preach the Gospel. False accusations of murder, arson, and robbery. Simply being Black.
Often the crowds of white families gathered to celebrate the spectacle, taking pictures of the bodies and mailing them as postcards.
Emmett Till was an only child. He grew up on the South Side of Chicago with his mother, Mamie, and grandparents and cousins.
In the summer of 1955, Emmett turned 14 years old, ready to start eighth grade in the fall. Before school started, he wanted to visit his cousins in Mississippi. So Emmett’s mom dropped him off at the train station in Chicago. Her own family fled the Delta decades earlier, so she told him — she told him the unwritten rules he had to follow. Quote, “Be very careful how you speak. Say ‘yes sir’ and ‘no ma’am’, and do not hesitate to be — to humble yourself if you have to get down on your knees”. End of quote.
That same speech, that same admonition — too many Black parents today still have to use that admonition. They have to tell their children when it comes to encounters with the law enforcement. You know, and so many other circumstances.
She kissed Emmett goodbye. It was the last time she saw her son alive.
Days after he arrived in Mississippi, Emmett’s mutilated body was found in a river, barbed wire tied around his neck and a 75-pound cotton gin fan attached to that wire as he was thrown into the river.
Emmett’s mother — his mother demanded that her son be sent home so that his funeral in Chicago could be an open casket.
Here’s what she said: “Let the people see what I’ve seen.” America and the world saw what she saw.
Emmett Till was born nearly 40 years ago after the first antilynching law was introduced. Although he was one of thousands who were lynched, his mother courage — his mother’s courage to show the world what was done to him energized the Civil Rights Movement.
Exactly 100 days later, Rosa Parks was arrested on the bus in Montgomery. Her statue sits in my office. She said, “I thought of Emmett Till and I couldn’t go back.” “I thought of Emmett Till and I couldn’t go back.”
Dr. King often preached about, quote, “the crying voices of little Emmett Till, screaming from the rushes of the Mississippi.”
To the Till family: We remain in awe of your courage to find purpose through your pain. To find purpose to through your pain. But the law is not just about the past, it’s about the present and our future as well.
From the bullets in the back of Ahmaud Arbery to countless other acts of violence — countless victims known and unknown — the same racial hatred that drove the mob to hang a noose brought that mob carrying torches out of the fields of Charlottesville just a few years go.
Racial hate isn’t an old problem; it’s a persistent problem. A persistent problem. And I know many of the civil rights leaders here know, and you heard me say it a hundred times: Hate never goes away; it only hides. It hides under the rocks. And given just a little bit of oxygen, it comes roaring back out, screaming. But what stops it is all of us, not a few. All of us have to stop it.
People like Ida B. Wells, one of the founders of the NAACP, established 100 years ago in response to racial terror across the country. A brilliant, gifted writer, she exposed the barbaric nature of lyn- — of lynching as a tool to intimidate and subjugate Black Americans.
And her words, her courage, her convictions — she was trying to prevent the murders of Emmett Till and Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others — over 4,400 others.
Ida B. — Ida B. Wells once said, quote, “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon the wrongs.” “Turn the light of truth upon the wrongs.”
That’s what all of you have done, gathered in this Rose Garden, with this bill and so much more, including Ida B. Wells’s great-granddaughter, Michelle Duster, whom I’m honored to introduce to mark this historic day.
Michelle, welcome to the White House, and welcome to the podium. And as my mother would say: God love you, dear.
NAACP Legal Defense Fund Fight Voting Barriers in Texas
A group of organizations of color recently came together on Sept. 11 in San Antonio to represent a lawsuit they filed arguing Senate Bill 1 violates the First, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by intentionally targeting and burdening methods and means of voting used by voters of color.
Representatives gathered at the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas (in San Antonio) to represent their case. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), Reed Smith LLP, and The Arc filed the lawsuit for the Houston Area Urban League, Houston Justice, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and The Arc of Texas.
The defendants in the case are Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Deputy Secretary of State of Texas Jose Esparza, Attorney General of Texas Ken Paxton, Elections Administrator of Bexar County Jacque Callanen, and Elections Administrator of Harris County Isabel Longoria.
S.B. 1 includes a series of suppressive voting-related provisions that will make it much harder for Texas residents to vote and disenfranchise some altogether, particularly Black and Latino voters and voters with disabilities.
The plaintiffs claim the law violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act by imposing barriers against voters with disabilities and denying people with disabilities equal opportunities to participate in the state’s voting programs.
The lawsuit challenges multiple provisions in SB 1, including:
- Limitations on early voting hours and constraints on the distribution of mail-in ballot applications.
- The elimination of drive-thru voting centers and the prohibition of mail-in ballot drop-boxes.
“Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. has been fighting for the rights of all U.S. citizens to vote for 108 years,” said Delta Sigma Theta President and CEO Beverly E. Smith. “S.B. 1 directly threatens the right to vote of over 20,000 members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and their family and friends in Texas, and we are committed to fight against S.B. 1 on their behalf.”
Texas is among more than 40 other states that have enacted legislative efforts to substantially restrict voting access. LDF and The Arc are also involved in litigation challenging Georgia’s restrictive voting laws.
Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Honored with National Monuments
The legacies of Emmett Till, along with his mother Mamie Till-Mobley, will be honored with national monuments. This commemoration comes on what would have been Emmett’s 82nd birthday, according to Ebony Entertainment.
Following his brutal murder, EBONY’s sister publication JET published photos of Till’s mutilated body, which shook the nation and brought much-needed attention to the plight of Black Americans in the United States. Last year, legislation was passed by Congress to award Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley with posthumous Congressional Gold Medals.
On July 25, President Joe Biden plans to sign a proclamation establishing the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument in both Illinois and Mississippi across three separate sites.
As shared with EBONY, the sites will include Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Bronzeville, Chicago, Mississippi’s Graball Landing and the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi. Each of these locations hold deep significance in the understanding of Emmett Till’s story.
Thousands mourned Emmett’s murder in 1955 in Bronzeville, the historically Black neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. Till’s mutilated body was pulled from Graball Landing’s Tallahatchie River. Lastly, the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi is the site where his murderers were tried and acquitted by an all-white jury.
A White House Official shared that the designation of these monuments “reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to advance civil rights and commitment to protecting places that help tell a more complete story of our nation’s history.”
PBS’s Special: Murder of Emmett Till (April 2023)
In August 1955, a 14-year-old Black boy allegedly flirted with a white woman in a grocery store in Money, Mississippi. Emmett Till, a teen from Chicago, didn’t understand that he had broken the unwritten laws of the Jim Crow South until three days later, when two white men dragged him from his bed in the dead of night, beat him brutally and then shot him in the head.
Although his killers were arrested and charged with murder, they were both acquitted quickly by an all-white, all-male jury. Shortly afterwards, the defendants sold their story, including their tale of how they murdered Till, to a journalist. The murder and the trial horrified the nation and the world. Till’s death was a spark that helped mobilize the civil rights movement. Three months after his body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River, the Montgomery bus boycott began.
Commissioner Tommy Calvert Attends Historic Juneteenth Event
Commissioner Tommy Calvert was invited to the White House by President Biden for the first White House Juneteenth Celebration on June 13, 2023.
Vice President Harris started the program by recognizing that the Black leaders invited to the celebration helped make the Juneteenth holiday possible.
“Juneteenth is the holiday that most speaks to the promise of America for freedom for all,” Calvert said. “I have done my best to improve our elections system, break up the good old boy system of contracting in San Antonio for minority businesses, and expand human rights for all globally. I want to thank the President for recognizing my contributions to freedom and I appreciated sharing Juneteenth with him and other top Black leaders from around America.”
The grandmother of Juneteenth, Opal Lee (96), had the crowd roaring when she proclaimed, “If people can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love and it is up to you to do it. We must get together and get rid of the disparities—the joblessness, the homelessness, the healthcare that some people can get and others can’t, and the climate change that we are responsible for…And if we don’t do something about it, we’re all going to hell in a handbasket.”
Recently, Calvert presented Bexar County’s Highest Honor to Lee at True Vision Church on June 18, 2023. At 89 years old, Lee walked 2.5 miles a day to symbolize the more than two years that elapsed before slaves in Texas and Louisiana knew they were free.
Hip-hop icon Method Man took to the podium to bridge the White House ceremony’s inclusion of June as Black Music Month.
“During Black Music Month, a concert is a fitting way to recognize Juneteenth and express this part of our shared American history,” said Method Man. “For it is through music that African Americans found community and found solace. Music has the power to uplift us, enrich our minds, and nourish our souls.”
San Antonio natives John Burns and Mike Burns helped produce the event. Their mother, Dr. Diana Burns Banks, is Commissioner Calvert’s appointee to the University Health System Board of Directors.
Please provide photo & video credits “Courtesy of Commissioner Tommy Calvert”
The Real History of Thanksgiving
Downtown SA Lights Up for the Holidays
Black Soldiers’ Convictions Overturned – A Century Later!
Video Surfaces in Ahmaud Arbery Case
Bushwick Bill, Of Houston Rap Group Geto Boys, Dead At 52
Botswana’s First Skyscraper and Tallest Building
Black Life Texas3 weeks ago
The Untold Story of Native Americans Heritage Month
Entertainment4 weeks ago
Kirk Brings Tour to San Antonio
Black Life Texas4 weeks ago
Get Ready for Fashionetta
Black Life Texas4 weeks ago
Black Veterans: Fighting Two Wars
Business2 weeks ago
San Antonio Airport Ranked #2 in U.S. by The Wall Street Journal
Black Life Texas4 weeks ago
Free Native American Festival at the Briscoe
Black Life Texas2 weeks ago
The Historical Lack of Black Publishers
Black Life Texas1 week ago
The History of Soulful Thanksgiving Sides