The Leadership Conference is working diligently to see that Tom Perez is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Perez is an eminently qualified public servant and consensus builder who has dedicated his career to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and have the opportunity to succeed. He has served with integrity and distinction at the local, state and national level, compiling an outstanding record of achievement.
LCCR Celebrates King Holiday with Unveiling of Its Legislative Agenda
Feature Story by Tyler Lewis - 1/12/2007
"Our nettlesome task is to discover how to organize our strength into compelling power."
— The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Where Do We Go From Here? Chaos or Community?" 1967
The civil rights community laid out an ambitious legislative agenda for the 110th Congress in letters to Congress on January 8, one week before the nation celebrates the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.
"As we prepare to celebrate the King holiday, we should remember how King's example of working closely and respectfully with Congress led to measurable gains in the lives of all Americans," said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation's oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition. "We hope that the new configuration in Congress will afford the civil rights community the ability to do the same."
LCCR’s January 8 letters lay out 16 priorities for legislation that the civil rights coalition would like to see enacted in this Congress, including fully funding and repairing No Child Left Behind, renewed enforcement of fair housing laws, full funding for the Census Bureau, and stronger legislation to combat predatory lending, hate crimes, and racial profiling.
However, Henderson says that the number one issue for the civil rights community is ensuring that the nation’s civil rights laws are fully enforced. Over the past two decades, observers and civil rights groups have been concerned that the federal agencies charged with civil rights enforcement have turned away from their mandate and become politicized by various administrations.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1957 Civil Rights Act, the first of a series of laws passed by Congress in the 20th century that were the foundation of the modern civil rights movement led by Dr. King.
LCCR’s letter, which represents the priorities of the nearly 200 organizations that make up the coalition, notes that the anniversary affords Congress an opportunity to assess the performance of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the United States Civil Rights Commission, which were formed with the passage of the law.
“Many of our civil rights laws have been eroded by Supreme Court decisions or lazily enforced by those charged with doing so,” said Henderson. “Dr. King fought too hard and too many lives were lost in the struggle for civil rights not to strengthen and protect these important laws.”
Observers believe that the civil rights community is in a better position to move issues that stalled under Republican leadership, including hate crimes and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which bans workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The House has already voted (315-116) to increase the minimum wage to $7.25 after years of failed attempts.
The NAACP noted on January 3rd that 110th Congress would bring chairs more committed to the needs of African Americans to key committees. “If this is an indication of things to come in the 110th Congress, we have much to look forward to,” said NAACP Washington Bureau Director Hilary Shelton.
The ACLU recently unveiled a print ad that challenges the 110th Congress to “restore constitutional freedoms.” “The ACLU is hopeful that the 110th Congress will perform its constitutional duty to act as a check and balance to the executive branch, and we are committed to ensuring that vital American freedoms are restored in the coming year," said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.
“Dr. King said once that, ‘we must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.’ The civil rights community has been fighting these battles a long time and we hope that the 110th Congress will see more successes than disappointments,” said Henderson.