On Saturday, Republican Governor Larry Hogan was one of the many people to attended an event honoring Howard Cooper in Towson, Maryland. Cooper, a 15-yeard old boy, was lynched in 1885 after an all-white jury wrongfully convicted him of rapes within minutes. Unfortunately, Cooper's story is not uncommon throughout American history. Over time, thousands of Black Americans have been lynched and murdered as punishments for crimes they did not commit. In an attempt to wipe these unjust convictions from individual public records, Hogan has issued a pardoned for Cooper and 33 others that were convicted and lynched under unjust circumstances.
"My hope is that this action will at least in some way help to right these horrific wrongs and perhaps bring a measure of peace to the memories of these individuals and to their descendants and their loved ones," Cooper said.
Many, including Maryland NAACP President Willie Flowers, feel that Hogan's posthumous pardons are a step in the right direction, but far from a solution. Flowers described Hogan's most recent move as "political posturing" that avoids discussing the "broken systems" that led to these lynchings.
"This is just political posturing that nobody needs right now," Flowers explained to CNN.
"If the governor's going to do something, he should with his power as governor look at the many broken systems based on the same type of vitriol, contempt, hatred, that caused the murders of these gentlemen. Every system that has been broken, as the governor of Maryland, he alone can change all of it."
Moreover, members of Hogan's party moved to block legislation that would make lynching a federal hate crime. Once the bill was renamed after Emmett Till and passed through the U.S. House of Representatives, Senator Rand Paul held it up in the Senate. This prompted criticism from former Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Cory Booker. To this day, the Emmett Till Antilynching Act has yet to make it through Congress.
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