civil rights

Commentary
5:30 am
Tue May 5, 2015

A Legislative Stepping Stone For Civil Rights

Dwight Eisenhower signs the 1960 Civil Rights Act
Credit Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

On May 6, 1960, President Dwight Eisenhower signed into law the second of four civil rights acts that serve as the foundation of federal civil rights statutes in the 20th and 21st centuries.

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Commentary
5:30 am
Mon March 23, 2015

'Just Mercy' Will Change How You See The World

Bryan Stevenson gives a talk in 2012
Credit James Duncan Davidson / Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons

Bryan Stevenson is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., a private, nonprofit human rights organization, helping the poor, the incarcerated, the condemned and children. He is also professor of law at New York University School of Law and received the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant, and also won national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and people of color.

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Commentary
5:30 am
Tue December 30, 2014

The Architects of Justice

Credit ensh / Flickr / Creative Commons

The meaning of the words justice served relies on the social, political and legal contexts in which it is applied.

Two 19th-century U.S. Supreme Court cases reflect how the Court’s decisions can be swayed by contemporary racial politics. In its 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford decision, the Court declared that African Americans could not sue for freedom in federal court because they were not considered citizens. This decision reversed 28 years of precedent, reflecting more the heightened division over slavery than impartial justice.

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OnWords
2:40 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

On Words: Civil Discourse

Credit U.C. Berkeley

Recently, U.C. Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks has come under fire for using the 50th anniversary of the campus free speech movement as a call for “civil discourse.” 

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Commentary
5:00 am
Wed June 25, 2014

New Exhibit Details Events of 'Freedom Summer'

Volunteers link arms and sing freedom songs before boarding the bus for Mississippi. Photograph by Ted Polumbaum.
Credit Image courtesy of The Kansas African American Museum

The Kansas African American Museum opened a new show this past weekend commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Summer of 1964.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Another Piece of the Civil Rights Fight

Howard W. Smith was responsible for adding sex as a protected class in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

On June 19th 1964, the Senate passed the Civil Rights Act, breaking the 83-day filibuster by Southern Democrats. While this act is recognized as a groundbreaking piece of civil rights legislation for African Americans, it also held the key to future civil rights advancements and protections for women.

Two days before the final vote, Representative Howard W. Smith, a powerful Democrat from Virginia, added sex as a protected class to Title VII, a section that prohibits discrimination by employers. Historians have been wondering about his motivations ever since.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Tue May 6, 2014

Past And Present: A Major Landmark In The Fight For Civil Rights

Credit David / Flickr / Creative Commons

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the celebrated civil rights case, Brown v. Board of Education. However, on May 3, 1954, two weeks before the Brown ruling, the Supreme Court delivered another important decision in the American Civil Rights movement.

In Hernandez v. Texas, the court declared that the 14th Amendment’s right to equal protection extended to all racial and ethnic groups. In 1951, Texas convicted an agricultural worker named Pedro Hernandez of murdering Joe Espinosa.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Past and Present: The Anniversary Of A Continuing Battle

President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Credit Wikimedia Commons

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This landmark legislation made it illegal to discriminate against someone based upon their race or place of birth.

Before 1964, the experiences of transplanted Africans in this country were dramatically influenced by slavery and Jim Crow racial segregation. During the past 50 years, many African Americans, under the protection of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, have achieved a level of social and economic mobility that their ancestors could only have dreamt of.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Tue December 31, 2013

Past and Present: How Brown v. BOE Could Have Happened Earlier

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site
Credit J. Stephen Conn / Flickr / Creative Commons

2014 marks the 60th anniversary of the landmark civil rights case, Brown v. Board of Education. However, Brown could have been decided one year earlier, if not for some unusual circumstances that brought the lawyers back to the Supreme Court to argue the case… for a second time.

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Commentary
5:00 am
Thu August 29, 2013

Movie Review: Lee Daniels' The Butler

Credit rottentomatoes.com

I have been maligning Lee Daniels' The Butler as a movie without a central storyline, but my powers of prophecy were weak: its story is the whole civil rights movement, from beginning lunch counters to South African apartheid and the Reagan administration.

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