Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
Over the last several decades, Congress has addressed some of our most pressing civil rights concerns by passing bipartisan legislation that protects American workers from discrimination on the basis of color, race, religion, age, disability and sex. Our civil rights laws have strengthened our country, and brought us closer to the Beloved Community where all people are able to succeed based on their abilities, not on the labels used to limit them.
We have taken some stumbles backward in recent years. The Supreme Court has weakened some of these basic protections in ways that Congress never intended. They have undermined the protections for workers, for older Americans, for the disabled, for racial and ethnic minorities, for women and for those in the military. We must work together to restore those rights.
But we have also taken some wonderful steps forward recently with the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, repealing the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy, all of which I was happy to vote for.
The struggle for civil rights and human rights is bigger than one law, one vote, or one judicial decision. It’s beyond one presidential term or act of Congress. Ours is the struggle of a lifetime, and each generation, each citizen, each president and each member of Congress must do his or her part. It has always required ordinary men and women with extraordinary vision, who have helped build this democracy. Together all of our efforts comprise the struggle of a nation to build the Beloved Community, a nation at peace with itself, that respects the worth and dignity of each and every human being.
More on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
Today Rep. John Lewis participated in a panel discussion in Atlanta commemorating the 49th Anniversary of the March on Washington and honoring Atlanta’s unique civil rights legacy. As the last surviving speaker from that March, Lewis issued this statement, a revised version of an early editorial, honoring this anniversary and anticipating the 50th anniversary of the March next year:
“On August 6th, 47 years ago, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law. We must never, ever forget that people right here in this country suffered, struggled and died simply trying to register and vote. They were trying to exercise a right guaranteed to them by the Constitution but denied to them by the unjust laws and practices of local and state governments."
Today marks the groundbreaking for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. The center’s mission is “to continue the universal search for a secure human existence in a way that inspires vigilance and leadership among future generations.” Rep. John Lewis made this statement to commemorate this effort:
WASHINGTON--Today Rep. John Lewis encouraged members of the House to vote against H.R. 3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 (CISPA). He joined many other civil liberties, entertainment, and cyber privacy organizations in opposing the bill. The bill would allow organizations like the National Security Agency (NSA) or the Department of Defense Cyber Command to share data it collects on American citizens with private industry or other government agencies without restriction.
“On this day 44 years ago, the world was in shock. The moral leader of our nation had been shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee. If he were here today, Martin Luther King Jr. would be proud of the progress we have made and the distance we have come toward ending legalized discrimination. However, he would be deeply disappointed that in a world community which witnessed the power of non-violence to resolve human needs, the incidence of violence has not abated, but has actually risen since the days of his campaign.
Rep. John Lewis made this statement about the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida:
“This shooting is a tragedy. It reminds me too much of what happened in the 1930s, 40s and 50s in this country when thousands of people of color were murdered without impunity simply because their lives were thought to be cheap. The death of Trayvon Martin has a chilling effect on black parents and their children, especially their sons.
WASHINGTON—On March 7, 1965, 600 non-violent protestors led by John Lewis, then chair of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, and Hosea Williams of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) walked two-by-two in silent protest across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Their intention was to march all the way to the state capital in Montgomery to highlight the need for voting rights protection in Alabama.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) announced that the House will vote this week on a resolution instructing the Office of the Historian to compile testimonies from current and former Members of Congress who have participated in historic or commemorative Civil Rights Movement actions. This resolution offers the opportunity to preserve a powerful and transformative period in American history and has been introduced by members who represent cities in Alabama where landmark events of the movement took place, Rep.
WASHINGTON—Today Rep. John Lewis participated in a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol where a marker was unveiled to honor the contributions of slave laborers to the U.S. Capitol. The following is his statement:
Yesterday Rep. John Lewis attended a ceremony at the White House where President Barack Obama introduced his new initiative, My Brother's Keeper, a White House program serving young African American men and boys. Rep. Lewis made these comments: