Congress passes Bobby Rush’s Emmett Till Antilynching Act
Sixty-seven years after Chicago teenager Emmett Till’s murder in Mississippi, lynching will soon become a federal hate crime. The U.S. House and Senate passed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, introduced in the House by Illinois Congressman Bobby Rush, who is retiring this year. As of press time, the bill was yet to be signed by President Joe Biden. If passed, the act will impose fines and up to thirty year prison terms for people who commit hate crimes that result in “death or serious bodily injury” and allow those crimes to be prosecuted at the federal level. There have been some two hundred attempts to pass anti-lynching legislation since 1900, when George Henry White, a North Carolina representative and the only Black member of Congress at the time, proposed the first such law. All attempts, until now, have failed for one reason or another. In a statement, Rush said, “Lynching is a longstanding and uniquely American weapon of racial terror that has for decades been used to maintain the white hierarchy,” and that passage of the act “sends a clear and emphatic message that our nation will no longer ignore this shameful chapter of our history.”
Quid pro quo
After a political career spanning fifty years came to an unceremonious close last year amid cries of scandal, Michael Madigan is now facing legal consequences for leading what prosecutors are calling a “criminal enterprise” that enriched himself and associates. Madigan, who was the Illinois Speaker of the House for all but two years between 1983 and 2021, and the Chairman of the state’s Democratic Party from 1998 to 2021, was indicted by a federal grand jury on March 2 on twenty-two counts, including bribery and extortion. The 106-page indictment, in part informed by former alderman Danny Solis’ cooperation, alleges Madigan exchanged political favors for job appointments and for gaining new clients at his private law practice. According to legal experts interviewed by the Tribune, the prosecutors’ case looks strong but not invincible—Madigan was apparently careful to use vague language like “You should go ahead and process that” or “Okay, alright, very good” when speaking with associates about alleged criminal schemes. (Contrast that with former governor Rod Blagojevich who was recorded as saying about a senate appointment seat “I’ve got this thing and it’s f***ing golden.”) Meanwhile, Madigan has denied all wrongdoing. As prosecutors try to squeeze a prison term out of the evidence, it raises an interesting question: how do we actually address the harm caused by one of the state’s most powerful men, entrusted to lead the party for decades, abusing his position for personal gain?
High schools get full rides
Students from five South and West Side high schools will be receiving full, debt-free scholarships to college. These scholarships were granted to the entire student body at Noble Johnson College Prep in Englewood, Al Raby High School in Garfield Park, Farragut Career Academy in Little Village, Benito Juárez Community Academy in Pilsen, and Morgan Park High School by Hope Chicago, a non-profit led by former CPS CEO Janice Jackson. Students at these schools can choose from twenty colleges, and one of their parents will also receive a scholarship for college or a job training program. The excitement from students, parents, and staff was palpable, though questions abound about the sponsoring organization that seemed to come out of left field. According to Hope Chicago’s website, its board includes Arne Duncan, the former CEO of CPS who allowed mass school closures, and financial executives such as the CEO of Sterling Bay. Last year, it received a $50,000 donation from former mayor Rahm Emanuel.