Now the other myth that gets around is the idea that legislation cannot really solve the problem and that it has no great role to play in this period of social change because you’ve got to change the heart and you can’t change the heart through legislation. You can’t legislate morals. The job must be done through education and religion. Well, there’s half-truth involved here. Certainly, if the problem is to be solved then in the final sense, hearts must be changed. Religion and education must play a great role in changing the heart. But we must go on to say that while it may be true that morality cannot be legislated, behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me and I think that is pretty important, also. So there is a need for executive orders. There is a need for judicial decrees. There is a need for civil rights legislation on the local scale within states and on the national scale from the federal government.

–Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., December 18, 1963, at Western Michigan University


Arkansas General Assembly, Regular Session, 2019–Senate Bill 591: An Act To Promote Truth And Reconciliation Among Arkansans; To Create The Arkansas Community Remembrance Commission; To Create The Arkansas Truth And Commission; And For Other Purposes

Introduced on March 18, 2019, by Senator Joyce Elliott. Referred to the Senate Education Committee on the same day. Voted down on April 3, 2019. Recommended for study in the Interim Committee on April 24, 2019.

Maryland General Assembly, Regular Session, 2019–House Bill 307: An Act Establishing A Maryland Lynching Truth And Reconciliation Commission; Authorizing The Staff Member Provided By The Office Of The Attorney General To Issue Certain Subpoenas; Requiring The Commission To Hold Certain Public Meetings In Each County Where A Lynching Of An African American By A White Mob Has Been Documented; Authorizing The Commission To Research Cases Of Racially Motivated Lynching; Requiring The Commission To Submit An Interim And Final Report To The Governor And The General Assembly On Or Before Certain Dates; Etc.

Introduced on January 28, 2019, by Delegate Joseline A. Pena-Melnyk. Referred to the House Judiciary Committee on the same day. Approved unanimously by the committee, and returned to the House, on February 12, 2019. Approved unanimously by the House on March 11, 2019, and sent to the Senate. Referred to the Senate Judiciary Proceedings Committee on March 14, 2019. Approved unanimously by the committee, and returned to the Senate, on March 30, 2019. Approved unanimously by the Senate on March 31, 2019, and returned to the House. Signed by the Governor on April 18, 2019.

Mississippi State Legislature, General Session, 2019–Senate Bill 2325: An Act To Create The State Truth Commission; To Prescribe Powers And Duties Of The Commission; To Provide For The Establishment Of Procedures To Investigate Grievances Registered With The Commission; And For Related Purposes.

Introduced on January 21, 2019, by Senator John Horhn. Referred to the Senate Rules Committee on the same day. Voted down on February 5, 2019.


Members of the U.S. Senate of the 109th Congress, 1st Session, announce on C-Span (020705) the passage of Senate Resolution 39: Apologizing to the victims of lynching, and the descendants of those victims, for the failure of the Senate to enact anti-lynching legislation.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), of the 115th U.S. Congress, 2nd Session, introduce, on C-Span2 (121818), Senate Bill 3178: “To amend title 18, United States Code, to specify lynching as a deprivation of civil rights, and for other purposes.” The Senate unanimously passed the bill which was short-titled “Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2018.” However, the U.S. House of Representatives refused to consider it. On February 14, 2019, the three Senators reintroduced it in the 116th U.S. Congress, 1st Session, as Senate Bill 488: Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2019. The Senate unanimously passed it again on that same day without any debate. The U.S. House of Representatives referred it to House Committee on the Judiciary. On March 22, 2019, the House Committee on the Judiciary referred it to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, where it currently sits alongside House Bill 35: The Emmitt Till Antilynching Act of 2019, which was introduced in the House of Representatives on January 3, 2019, by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL).