Images of the lynching – as horrific and brutal as they were – were offered for sale by Campbell’s Studio out of nearby Grenada, Mississippi. Though many area whites purchased the photos, the studio declined to sell them to the NAACP. Nevertheless, these photographs were the first lynching photos to appear in the national press.
Both Time and Life featured them in 1937 issues. Other newspapers later followed suit – though nobody would sell them to black organizations or press.
As news of the lynchings spread across the country, Congress began to finally take notice. US Representative Joseph Gavagan, a Democrat from New York, sponsored a bill calling for the federal prosecution of those taking part in lynch mobs. The bill would also fine or imprison local police who refused or failed to protect prisoners from being lynching.
Three days after the lynching, the House passed the bill in a landslide. It was, however, hung up in the Senate for months. When it was finally on the floor, Southern senators held the longest filibuster seen in over fifty years, lasting six full weeks. “We shall at all cost,” said Senator Allen Ellender from Louisiana, “preserve the white supremacy of America.”
Southern Democrats charged that the South “has been deserted by the Democrats of the North.” They compared the bill to the dreded New Deal, as well as civil rights and communism. It was ultimately withdrawn, defeated in the Senate. 3
To this date, the United States has never passed a federal anti-lynching bill.
From 1882 to 1968, "...nearly 200 anti-lynching bills were introduced in Congress, and three passed the House. Seven presidents between 1890 and 1952 asked Congress to pass a federal law."
Not one bill was approved by the Senate because of the powerful opposition of the Southern Democratic voting bloc.
On June 13, 2005, in a resolution sponsored by senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and George Allen of Virginia, together with 78 others, the US Senate formally apologized for its failure to enact this and other anti-lynching bills "when action was most needed."
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