The June 14 news article "A Senate Apology for History on Lynching" did not contain any details about the unidentified black member of Congress who proposed the first anti-lynching law in 1900. For the record, he was Rep. George Henry White, a Republican from North Carolina, who served two terms (1897-1901). Mr. White was the last of 22 southern blacks, all Republicans, to serve in Congress during the 19th century, and he was the most outspoken on the subject of lynching. He chose not to seek reelection in 1900.
As a practicing lawyer and onetime elected prosecutor in his native state, Mr. White knew firsthand the evils of vigilante justice. His proposed law -- which died in the House Judiciary Committee and never reached the Senate in 1900 -- would have made participating in a lynching a federal offense, punishable by execution. He introduced the bill after a wave of racial violence across much of the nation, including the November 1898 massacre in Wilmington, N.C., in which at least seven African Americans were killed.
Mr. White was active in the National Afro-American Council, the Constitutional League of the United States and later in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He died in Philadelphia in 1918.
As his biographer, I believe he deserves more than an oblique reference for his courageous efforts.