Civil Rights, then and now


This year marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and today is the anniversary of the signing of the Fair Housing Act in 1968.

In my lifetime, I have seen so much change. I was 13 when the Civil Rights Act was signed, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. My life has been entirely different because of the Civil Rights Act, and the movement that led to a change in our culture and our country. Because I am a black man, my education, my successful career in public service, my entire life would have been different if I had been born at an earlier time.

But our work is not yet done.

We need to pass comprehensive laws that protect a person’s right to vote, which is under threat in several states. Voter suppression laws are a tool that politicians use as a modern-day Jim Crow - to turn away young and minority voters that they do not like. With the Supreme Court's gutting of the Voting Rights Act, a new Voting Rights Act is needed more than ever.

We need to pass comprehensive immigration reform, so that the millions of people in our country living in the shadows can come out into the light.

Speaking of the shadows, young black men can still be gunned down like Trayvon Martin, with their murderers never brought into the light of justice.

We don't live in an equal country. But as Martin Luther King put it, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."

The signing of the Civil Rights Act was a point along that arc, but we need to keep moving forward.

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