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
WASHINGTON-- As the original sponsor of the legislation which authorized the building of the National African American Museum of History and Culture, Rep. John Lewis was one of the speakers today at the groundbreaking for the newest Smithsonian Institute museum on the National Mall. The effort was begun almost 100 years ago by black veterans of the Civil War who were concerned that the contributions of black soldiers were not acknowledged. The idea had some supporters, but the stock market crash of 1929 killed the flow of private contributions.
WASHINGTON—Rep. John Lewis made this statement today about the beating of Brandon White, allegedly because he is gay.
There is not any room in our society for any crime against any citizen simply because of individual differences. All human beings are made by the same hands, so no one has the right to demean, humiliate or beat down another individual because he or she is different. We should begin to see difference as an opportunity to grow, to understand something that is new to us, not as an invitation to violence.
In honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday, Rep. John Lewis made these comments: