Senate Apologizes for Not Banning Lynchings

* Saying "I'm sorry" can't change the past, but it's still the right thing to do. That's why the U.S. Senate apologized yesterday for not acting to end a terrible practice in American history.

The Senate voted to say it was sorry for not making lynching a federal crime. The first anti-lynching bill was brought to the Senate 105 years ago. Lynching is when people are killed, usually by hanging, by mob action without a trial.

More than 4,700 lynchings occurred in the United States between 1882 and 1968, most of them in southern states. Four out of every five victims were black, Alabama's Tuskegee University found. There were lynchings in the Washington area, including Alexandria and Annapolis. Immigrants from China, Italy and Mexico also were targeted by lynch mobs despite having done nothing wrong.

Many Americans, including author Mark Twain, fought to make lynching a federal crime. Seven presidents, starting with Benjamin Harrison in the 1890s, tried to get laws passed outlawing lynching. But powerful southern senators blocked votes on these bills by using the filibuster (where senators can talk a bill to death, something KidsPost wrote about recently).

Yesterday's vote marks the first time that the Senate has apologized for the mistreatment of black Americans. Some people want the government to apologize for slavery as well.

Correction: Yesterday's KidsPost misstated the title of a documentary opening this week. It is "Deep Blue," not "Into the Deep."

This tree formerly was used for lynchings in Prince George's County, Maryland. From 1882 to 1968, more than 4,700 people were lynched in the United States.