Landmark Legislation Still Holds Significance for Millions of Americans
MIAMI -- Several federal agencies and local government bodies will join forces on July 2 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson's signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (CRA). The landmark legislation, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, was envisioned and drafted by President Kennedy in 1963 and was enacted in 1964 following his assassination.
On July 2, 2014, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Miami District Office will join with the Miami-Dade County Office of Community Advocacy - including the Miami-Dade County Commission for Women, Asian American Advisory Board, Black Affairs Advisory Board, Community Relations Board, and Hispanic Affairs Advisory Board - to host two events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the passage of the law. Both events will be held at the Kovens Conference Center at Florida International University's North Miami Campus.
"Many people fought and worked exceedingly hard for the legal protections men and women of all races, religion, color, and national origin have today," said Malcolm S. Medley, the EEOC's district director in Miami. "To paraphrase President Lyndon B. Johnson, no memorial, oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor their memory than upholding and celebrating the civil rights bill for which they fought so long. Our goal is not only to celebrate its passage, but to also encourage everyone to join us in working towards true and lasting equality."
The law, described in 1964 as "an idea whose time has come," was enacted following some of the most difficult and violent days of the civil rights movement, and over the strong objections of significant political figures of the day.
EEOC General Counsel David Lopez, who will speak at both events, said, "The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is more than just a law that was passed. We must take the time to acknowledge the humanizing effect of this law for so many at that time, and the great opportunities and protections this law has created for us today. There is still work to be done, but we cannot deny that the fabric of American life, and the course of America's future, was forever changed for the better by this law."
The Miami commemoration will kick off with a free education conference and community forum from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. The event is free to the public and is targeted to advocates, community organizers, attorneys, and groups working or volunteering on employment or housing discrimination issues. Panels of local and national officials from EEOC, U.S. Department of Justice Office of Special Counsel (DOJ, OSC), U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (W&H) and Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will discuss enforcement, litigation, priorities and services within their respective agencies.
The event will also feature presentations by directors and officers of the Palm Beach County Office of Equal Opportunity, the Miami-Dade County Commission for Human Rights, and the Housing Opportunities Project for Excellence (HOPE), who will provide information about county-level enforcement of anti-discrimination housing and employment laws. Community and advocacy groups will join the panelists for an open forum.
Following the conference, attendees and others are invited to join other agency officials, elected officials, attorneys, and other invited guests at an evening reception commemorating the legacy and mission of the CRA. Reception speakers include EEOC General Counsel David Lopez, former National Organization for Women President Patricia Ireland, and Miami-Dade Community Relations Board Chair, Dr. Walter Richardson.
Due to limited seating, attendees to the Miami commemoration events are encouraged to RSVP via http://miamicivilrightsevent.eventbrite.com as soon as possible. Commemoration events have or will be held by many agencies and organizations across the country, including in the Miami District's other field office areas in Tampa on July 2, and in San Juan, P.R., on June 24 and 25.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The Miami District Office's jurisdiction includes Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Further information about the agency is available at www.eeoc.gov.