Newswire: Congress passes historic Anti-Lynching legislation

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Lynching in a small Southern town


Sixty-five years after the horrific lynching of teenager Emmett Till, the U.S. House of Representatives have finally passed H.R. 35, the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act. The legislation would make lynching a crime under federal law.
“Today, under the leadership of Representative Bobby Rush (IL-01), and three other Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), the House of Representatives finally passed legislation to address the heinous act of lynching by making it a federal crime. The first bill to outlaw lynching was introduced in 1900,” members of the Congressional Black Caucus wrote in a statement.
“Lynching was a brutal, violent, and often savage public spectacle. They were advertised in newspapers, memorialized in postcards, and souvenirs were made from the victims’ remains,” the CBC, which is chaired by Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif), added.
A 1930 editorial in Raleigh News and Observer noted the delight of the audience witnessing a lynching as “Men joked loudly at the sight of the bleeding body; girls giggled as the flies fed on the blood that dripped from the Negro’s nose.”
“Make no mistake: lynching is domestic terrorism. It is a tool that was used during the 256 years of slavery to terrorize enslaved African Americans and discourage them from rebelling,” Bass said.
“It was used for almost 100 years after the end of slavery to terrorize free African Americans and discourage them from exercising their rights as citizens. Even today, we hear reports of nooses being left on college campuses and workplaces to threaten and harass Black people,” she stated.
Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Tim Scott (R-SC) applauded the passage of the bill, which is identical to anti-lynching legislation the three introduced in the Senate last year.
That legislation unanimously passed the Senate. “Today brings us one step closer to finally reconciling a dark chapter in our nation’s history,” Booker stated in a release. “Lynchings were used to terrorize, marginalize, and oppress black communities – to kill human beings to sow fear and keep black communities in a perpetual state of racial subjugation.”
He continued:
“If we do not reckon with this dark past, we cannot move forward. But today we are moving forward. Thanks to the leadership of Rep. Rush, the House has sent a clear, indisputable message that lynching will not be tolerated. It has brought us closer to reckoning with our nation’s history of racialized violence. Now the Senate must again pass this bill to ensure that it finally becomes law.”
Harris called lynchings racially-motivated acts of violence and terror that represent a dark and despicable chapter of our nation’s history. “They were acts against people who should have received justice but did not. With this bill, we can change that by explicitly criminalizing lynching under federal law,” noted Harris, who suspended her presidential campaign late last year.
“I applaud Congressman Rush and the House of Representatives for speaking the truth about our past and making it clear that these acts must never happen again without serious and swift consequence and accountability. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to support this bill’s passage,” she said.
Scott added that it’s essential to show that hate will not win while Rush compared lynching to the French use of the guillotine, the Roman Empire’s use of crucifixion, and the British use of drawing and quartering as a tool of terrorism.
“And, for too long now, a federal law against lynching has remained conspicuously silent,” Rush noted. “Today, we will send a strong message that violence – and race-based violence, in particular – has no place in American society. I am immensely grateful to Senators Harris, Booker, and Scott for working with my office on this landmark piece of legislation, and I look forward to it being quickly passed in the Senate and immediately sent to the President to be signed into law.”
Bass said the last known lynching was as recent as 25 years ago and only then, for the first time in the nation’s history, was the perpetrator convicted and executed. “This is an awful part of our history, but it is our history – our American history – and it is important for us to all know and remember it, especially now that we are facing a resurgence of hate crimes in America under the presidency of Donald J. Trump,” Bass stated.
“Now there is the National Memorial for Peace and Justice to document the known history of lynching and the many reasons why Black people were lynched, such as for making eye contact with a white person, not moving to the other side of the street, or spitting in public,” she said.
Further, Bass added that the bill makes “a long-overdue change to our laws by finally addressing the issue of lynching for the thousands of African Americans who suffered this heinous fate and the countless more we’ll never know.”

Newswire :  Center for Responsible Lending calls for firing of fair lending official who used N-Word

By Charlene Crowell ( TriceEdneyWire.com) – Recent and stunning disclosures of racially-offensive writings by a high-ranking official at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has unleashed an escalating barrage of criticisms, including calls for the official to be fired and more probing questions regarding the agency’s commitment to fair lending. Since a September 28 Washington Post article first reported how Eric Blankenstein, CFPB’s Policy Director for Supervision, Enforcement and Fair Lending, used a pen name in blogs dating as far back as 2004, a spate of fury has been unleashed. Disguising his authorship, Blankenstein claimed that the use of the N-word was not racist, and further alleged that most hate crimes were hoaxes. A subsequent New York Times article alleged that people who perpetuated the Obama birther conspiracy are not racist either, and noted that as late as 2016, Blankenstein’s personal Twitter account posted racially charged comments. Keep in mind that Blankenstein was hand-picked by CFPB head Mick Mulvaney. Patrice A. Ficklin, a CFPB career staff member and Director of its Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity reports to Blankenstein and is quoted in the Post article. Ficklin said, “And while he has been collegial, thoughtful and meticulous, I have had experiences that have raised concerns that are now quite alarming in light of the content of his blog posts — experiences that call into question Eric’s ability and intent to carry out his and his Acting Director’s repeated yet unsubstantiated commitment to a continued strong fair lending program under governing legal precedent.” By October 1, Anthony Reardon, National President of the National Treasury Employees Union, advised CFPB of its dissatisfaction with the Blankenstein blogs. “There should be zero tolerance for comments that Blankenstein has admitted authoring and nothing less than swift and decisive action is called for,” said Reardon. “That someone with a history of racially derogatory and offensive comments has a leadership position at CFPB reflects poorly on CFPB management and your commitment to fulfilling the mandate of the agency to ensure that discriminatory and predatory lending practices are stopped.” Two days later, on October 3, the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) publicly called for Blankenstein to be fired. “Mr. Blankenstein must be removed from his post and this must be combined with a demonstrable commitment by CFPB head Mick Mulvaney to fair lending,” said Yana Miles, CRL’s Senior Legislative Counsel. “Thus far, the Mulvaney approach has been worse than inaction – it has been an appalling retreat from enforcing anti-discrimination laws…. The enduring legacy and present-day experience of financial discrimination is the key driver of the racial wealth gap. Vigorously addressing this is a legal and moral imperative.” A second civil rights organization agreed with CRL’s call for Blankenstein’s termination. “Eric Blankenstein’s racist and sexist remarks show that he is not fit to lead the CFPB Office of Fair Lending,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Our nation’s history of financial discrimination is the key factor in the growing racial wealth gap.” “Entrusting Blankenstein given his history of racially derogatory remarks will undermine progress for fair lending efforts to close the gap,” continued Gupta. “If the CFPB is serious about eradicating discrimination, it must immediately remove Blankenstein, and must ensure that it is led by a person with a demonstrated commitment to civil rights enforcement. His writings make clear that Mr. Blankenstein is not that person.” The same day, another pivotal development occurred. A letter signed by 13 U.S. Senators representing 11 states wrote Mulvaney, demanding answers to a series of questions no later than October 22. The questions span Mulvaney’s personal awareness of the writings, the guidelines and procedures used to fill the position, whether a Member of Congress, or an executive branch employee recommended his hiring, what action he intends to take as Acting Director and more. In part, the Senators’ letter states, “We are deeply concerned that you have placed a person with a history of racist writing at a senior position within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau…Mr. Blankenstein was not hired through the competitive service process like most CFPB employers; he is one of your hand-selected political appointees. Further, you have specifically tasked him with overseeing the CFPB’s fair lending supervision and enforcement work at a time when you have decided to restructure the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity.” The letter was signed by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-Washington State), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Edward Markey (D-MA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Jack Reed (D-RI) Mark Warner (D-VA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). Even before the Blankenstein scandal, Mulvaney’s actions and inactions at the CFPB have brought a series of concerns by civil rights and consumer advocates alike. Particularly noteworthy among their stated concerns under Mulvaney include: CFPB has yet to issue any violations of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act; The Bureau declared an intent to ignore the Disparate Impact standard, a long-standing legal test that holds the effects of discrimination, not the intent are legal violations; Personally praised the repeal of anti-discrimination auto lending guidance; Sided with payday lenders in their challenge of the Bureau’s payday rule promulgated under the previous director; Announced the Bureau’s fair lending office would be stripped of its supervisory and enforcement powers; and Relegated the development of regulation on fair lending for minority and women-owned businesses to a low-level concern. It took decades of vigilant struggle for civil rights, fair lending, and consumer protection to be codified in federal laws. It is time to remind the CFPB and all federal agencies that they have a duty to uphold the nation’s fair lending laws – regardless of personal beliefs. Charlene Crowell is the Center for Responsible Lending’s Communications Deputy Director. She can be reached at Charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.