You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Demand Congress Address Civil and Human Rights.
Even those with only a cursory knowledge of the work done by Martin Luther King, Jr and the millions of Civil Rights activists from the founding of our country through today can look at the current climate in our courts and Congress and see the systematic dismantling of the protections fought for with blood and sweat and tears.
From the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the enforcement provisions of the Voting Rights Act to the announcement made by the newly GOP-lead Congress that the words “Civil Rights and Human Rights” had been deleted from the Senate Constitution Committee, the infrastructure that provided some measure of relief from pre-Civil War and Jim Crow days is crumbling.
Perhaps the Grand Old Party thinks we are, indeed, post-racial and post-patriarchal. Or perhaps they simply don’t care about civil rights. Or perhaps they feel threatened by it. Or perhaps they are just trying to reduce their work load and simplify their jobs — we all know how hard they work the 132 days they’re in session.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights has a simple, important action at Civil Rights.org under the “Take Action” tab. Add your name to the letter with the clear title: "Congress Must Address Civil and Human Rights Priorities in 2015.” Apparently this is something we must now remind our legislators is part of their job description.
The letter urges your legislators to make 2015 a year of action on civil and human rights issues. The three categories this coalition of civil rights groups seeks to address are: Economic Security and Opportunity, Voting Rights, and Criminal and Racial Justice.
Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, responded to the Senate’s decision to rename the Constitution committee. She said, in part:
“The new Senate Republican Majority’s decision to expunge civil rights and human rights from this subcommittee’s name is a discouraging sign given the growing diversity of our nation and the complex civil and human rights challenges we face... Names matter. This, after all, is a subcommittee with jurisdiction over the implementation and enforcement of many of our most important civil rights laws... We cannot afford to demote the importance of civil and human rights in the 114th Congress. While we have made progress, we still have a long way to go to address issues such as voting discrimination and hate crimes and violence committed against individuals because of their race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. In addition, the recent deaths of unarmed African-American men and boys at the hands of police have spurred a movement across the nation calling for reforms to our nation’s justice system, which would likely fall under this subcommittee’s jurisdiction.”
Take two minutes and support The Leadership Conference in demanding that Congress tend to the needs and rights of all the citizens they represent. Considering their behavior so far this session, we’re going to need to continually remind them and it’s best we get started immediately.
Also, if you haven’t yet, go see Ava DuVernay's “Selma.” The movie grabbed a nomination for Best Picture, but she was snubbed by the 94% white, 76% male academy voters in the director’s category. Anyone who’s seen the end of any awards show knows how rare this is; your movie is nominated, you clean up in additional nominations and typically in wins as well. When you see “Selma," you can feel the director’s influence; it would be an entirely different movie without her perspective behind the camera.
It’s not enough to know what happened during King’s lifetime and be able to list the accomplishments of the movement — especially at a time when that legacy is being dismantled. Go see Selma and feel what happened.
"Civil and Human Rights Coalition Troubled by Deletion of “Civil Rights and Human Rights” from Senate Constitution Subcommittee” press release from The Leadership Conference
"Congress Will Be in Session Longer Next Year. Will It Make a Difference?” by Kate Scanlon at The Daily Signal
Hear the segment in context:
Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich