On this day in 1918, Congress was asked to make lynching a federal crime by the National Liberty Congress of Colored Americans.
The Dyer Anti-Lynching bill was proposed to Congress by Congressman Leonidas C. Dyer, who was a white Republican. He was inspired to compose the bill due to race riots and lynching in Missouri and Illinois in 1917. In the North, African American leaders demanded that the practice of lynching be made a crime.
In April of 1918, African Americans in Louisiana urged the Governor of the State to take the necessary steps the stop lynching. In December of the same year, members of the Texas National Association for the Advancement of Colored People sent a petition to the Governor stating, “First realizing that the lynching evil has prevailed in this country for more than 50 years and that our present laws have not been able to cope with the crime of mob violence and as a result of same the said crime is gradually increasing which has caused general discontent and restlessness among the colored people; Second realizing that your excellency is the governor of all the State of Texas we feel it our duty as a part and parcel of this commonwealth to ask your excellency to submit in your message to the ensuing legislature some remedy which in your judgment will abate and eventually rid the State of mob violence.”
Southern Democrats were very powerful at the time, and blocked many of the proposed bills, even though the Republican Party carried much influence with African American voters. The lynchings stopped occurring as often after the Civil Rights Movement. Unfortunately, they still take place occasionally even today.