Thank you to Taa Grays, President of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, for sharing this important statement from the National Bar Association.
Today we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Pushed through Congress by President Lyndon B. Johnson, it is arguably the most important legislation to come out of the Civil Rights Movement.
The most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Act outlaws discrimination, ended racial segregation, and protected the voting rights of minorities and women. The Civil Rights Act opened the door for other significant and historic legislation such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
This milestone was the culmination of bipartisan Congressional leadership, peaceful protests, and determined activism from grassroots and national leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and National Bar Association members Fred D. Gray, Thurgood Marshall, and others. However, in the 50 years since the Civil Rights Act became the law of the land, it’s clear that we still have much work to do.
Today, on behalf of the National Bar Association, the nation’s oldest and largest national network of predominantly African American lawyers, and the nearly 59,000 lawyers, judges, law professors and law students it represents throughout the United States and around the world, I submitted a letter to Patrick J. Leahy, Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary and Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member of the same Committee, in support of the passage of the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014.
A year ago, the Supreme Court of the United States of America greatly weakened the Voting Rights Act of 1965, putting the right to vote in serious danger and in turn delivering a blow to the Civil Rights Act of ‘64. Currently, states and localities around the country are making changes to elections that would take away the right to vote for some people and African Americans are particularly at risk for voter discrimination. Excessively restrictive and discriminatory state laws disproportionately affect people of color, the poor and senior citizens. Every day that Congress fails to act, voters are in danger.
On this day, we celebrate the Civil Rights Act’s impact and acknowledge that we must continue to vigorously defend legislation that promotes equal justice. We urge this Congress, inspired by the bipartisan Congress that passed the Civil Rights Act, to pass the Voting Rights Act of 2014 and protect the right to vote for all Americans.