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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Restoring the Conscience of a Nation: A Report on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

Established in 1957, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission has played a crucial role in securing and protecting the civil rights of the American citizens who had been historically disenfranchised and segregated from mainstream society. But since the 1980s, the commission has been debilitated by efforts to weaken and undermine its integrity and independence.

With a new administration, there is an opportunity to take a fresh look at this venerable institution and make the necessary changes to restore it to its former status as the "conscience of the nation."

The following report chronicles the history of and the need for the commission over the years, as well as offering recommendations on how return the commission to its original mandate and expand on it to preserve and protect the civil and human rights of all Americans.

Restoring the Conscience of a Nation: A Report on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. March 2009.

Report Contents

Executive Summary

Introduction

I. Creating the Commission

II. The Commission’s Early Years

III. The 60s: Laying the Foundation for Legislation

IV. The 70s: School Desegregation and an Expanded Mandate

V. The 80s: Dismantling the Commission

VI. The 90s: The Commission Devolves

VII. The Post-Millennial Commission

Conclusion

Recommendations

Acknowledgements

Printable Version

Full report formatted for printing (pdf)

Additional Resources

Video: Restoring the Conscience of a Nation - Wade Henderson, president and CEO of LCCR; John Payton, director-counsel of the NAACP LDF; Catherine Powell, professor of law at Fordham University; and Julie Fernandes, principal at the Raben Group, talk about the role the commission has played in advancing civil rights over the last 50 years and explain why they've decided to provide Congress with recommendations for improving the commission. 

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