NAACP Says Lynching Resolution Long OverdueJune 14, 2005
NAACP Interim President and CEO Dennis Courtland Hayes said the U.S. Senate vote to apologize for the lynchings of thousands of people, mostly African Americans, is long overdue, but is a good first step toward reconciliation and the official acknowledgement of a dark period in U.S. history.
"The NAACP was formed in 1909 partly in reaction to the lynchings of African Americans during the 19th and 20th centuries," said Hayes. "Coming 96 years after the NAACP was founded by black and white Americans for the purpose of halting horrific acts such as lynchings, the Senate vote is both a validation of the NAACP's need to exist as it approaches its centennial and a reason to hope that one day all forms of racial lynchings within the United States will cease. The vote offers a ray of hope that America will persevere to see an end to racial disparities in incarceration rates, health care, wealth, housing and employment."
Washington Bureau Chief Hilary Shelton said, "Our hope is that as we move toward reconciliation, the Congress will establish a federal commission to investigate all of the lynchings to determine the extent of the damage done and what it will take for final healing."
The resolution, sponsored by Sens. George Allen, R-Va., and Mary Landrieu, D-La., was approved by 80 of the Senate's 100 members. Notably absent among the endorsers were two senators from Mississippi, Sens. Thad Cochran and Trent Lott. From 1882 to 1968, there were 4,742 lynchings nationally. During that period, Mississippi had the highest number of lynchings, 581, according to the Tuskegee Institute records. According to the resolution, 99 percent of the lynching perpetrators escaped punishment.
The Senate failed to act on federal anti-lynching legislation that passed the House of Representatives three times between 1920 and 1940. The lynchings were often part of a campaign of intimidation against African Americans who sought to vote, own a business, buy land or campaign for equal rights.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its half-million adult and youth members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.
CONTACT: NAACP Office of Communications 410.580.5125