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June 18, 2014 0

Honoring The Memory Of Murdered Civil Rights Workers

June 21 marks the 50th anniver­sary of the mur­ders of three young civil rights work­ers who trav­elled to Mis­sis­sippi for “Free­dom Sum­mer,” to help African Amer­i­can res­i­dents under­stand their con­sti­tu­tional rights and reg­is­ter to vote.  Fac­ing deep insti­tu­tional racism, fewer than five per­cent of the 500,000 black adults in Mis­sis­sippi were then reg­is­tered to vote.  Michael “Mickey” Schw­erner, 24, James Chaney, 21, and Andrew Good­man, 20, knew they were risk­ing their lives for their cause. murdered-civil-rights-workers

On June 21, 1964, after they had inves­ti­gated the burn­ing of a black church, the three young men were reported miss­ing.    Forty-four days later, their bod­ies were found buried deep in a dam in Philadel­phia, Mis­sis­sippi.  The nation later learned that on their way back, the men’s car had been stopped for a pre­text traf­fic vio­la­tion and the three had been arrested and held for sev­eral hours.  On their release, they were fol­lowed and mur­dered by mem­bers of the Neshoba Coun­try Sheriff’s Depart­ment, Philadel­phia Police, and mem­bers of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).

When Mis­sis­sippi pros­e­cu­tors refused to press mur­der charges, fed­eral author­i­ties, led by Assis­tant Attor­ney Gen­eral for Civil Rights John Doar, brought fed­eral crim­i­nal civil rights charges – with mixed results:  seven of the 18 defen­dants were con­victed, with sen­tences between three and ten years.  At the sen­tenc­ing in Decem­ber 1967, fed­eral judge William Harold Cox crudely explained, “They killed one nig­ger, one Jew, and a white man. I gave them all what I thought they deserved.”  In 1999, a new gen­er­a­tion of Mis­sis­sippi law enforce­ment offi­cials reopened pro­ceed­ings, and in 2005 the State of Mis­sis­sippi indicted the Klan leader who had led the group.  ADL wel­comed his conviction.

The mur­ders in Mis­sis­sippi in 1964 out­raged the nation, pro­vid­ing addi­tional momen­tum to pro­pel pas­sage of the com­pre­hen­sive Civil Rights Act later that sum­mer – and the Vot­ing Rights Act (VRA), one of the most impor­tant, effec­tive civil rights laws – the fol­low­ing year.

We have come a long way as a nation since 1964, but vig­i­lance is nec­es­sary to retain that hard-earned progress.  In 2013, unfor­tu­nately, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a crit­i­cal VRA pro­vi­sion in Shelby County v. Holder.  The League had urged the Court to uphold the Act in an ami­cus brief.  Instead, a nar­row Court major­ity elim­i­nated the for­mula to deter­mine which states must seek prior gov­ern­ment approval for vot­ing changes. The very day the deci­sion was handed down, a num­ber of states began enact­ing previously-blocked voter ID laws and redis­trict­ing mea­sures.

Now, fifty years later, the League is help­ing to lead a very large coali­tion work­ing to fight dis­crim­i­na­tion, pro­mote equal­ity, and pro­tect the same vot­ing rights for which Schw­er­mer, Good­man, and Chaney gave their lives. ADL is urg­ing broad sup­port  for the Vot­ing Rights Amend­ment Act of 2014 (VRAA) which would cre­ate a new for­mula for pre-clearing vot­ing rights changes.

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May 14, 2014 0

From The Archives: ADL’s Involvement In Brown v. Board

Sat­ur­day, May 17th marks the 60th anniver­sary of Brown v. Board of Edu­ca­tion, the land­mark Supreme Court deci­sion that ruled racially seg­re­gated pub­lic schools “inher­ently unequal” and ordered the deseg­re­ga­tion of America’s pub­lic schools. ADL-brown-amicus-brief

Act­ing on its man­date “to secure jus­tice and fair treat­ment to all cit­i­zens alike and to put an end for­ever to unjust and unfair dis­crim­i­na­tion,” in Octo­ber 1952 ADL’s National Com­mis­sion resolved to encour­age fed­eral and state leg­is­la­tors “to sup­port leg­is­la­tion to insure the great­est pos­si­ble pro­tec­tion of civil rights and equal­ity of oppor­tu­nity for all in the fun­da­men­tal fields of employ­ment, edu­ca­tion and housing.”

The next month, ADL filed an ami­cus brief in Brown, argu­ing that because African Amer­i­can chil­dren were “dis­ad­van­taged by the seg­re­gated pub­lic school sys­tem of Topeka” the Court should “dis­avow the ‘sep­a­rate but equal’ doc­trine as it has been applied to pub­lic edu­ca­tional institutions.”

ADL’s brief noted a lower court’s find­ing that seg­re­ga­tion “irrepara­bly dam­ages the child,” and argued that “that which is unequal in fact can­not be equal in law.” The brief’s final argu­ment read:

Legally imposed seg­re­ga­tion in our coun­try, in any shape, man­ner or form, weak­ens our pro­gram to build and strengthen world democ­racy and com­bat total­i­tar­i­an­ism. In edu­ca­tion, at the lower lev­els, it indeli­bly fixes anti-social atti­tudes and behav­ior pat­terns by build­ing inter-group antag­o­nisms. It forces a sense of lim­i­ta­tion upon the child and destroys incen­tive. It pro­duces feel­ings of infe­ri­or­ity and dis­cour­ages racial self-appreciation.

Today, ADL con­tin­ues to com­bat dis­crim­i­na­tion in schools and advo­cate for edu­ca­tion equity. On its 60th anniver­sary, we rec­og­nize the Brown deci­sion as a mon­u­men­tal leap for­ward in the ongo­ing fight for equal education.

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May 12, 2014 0

Schools Must Educate All Students, Regardless of Immigration Status

The U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice (DOJ) and the U.S. Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion (DOE) last week issued crit­i­cal joint guid­ance to schools nation­wide remind­ing them of their respon­si­bil­ity to pro­vide qual­ity edu­ca­tion for all youths, regard­less of immi­gra­tion sta­tus.  Writ­ing that they “have become aware of stu­dent enroll­ment prac­tices that may chill or dis­cour­age the par­tic­i­pa­tion, or lead to the exclu­sion, of stu­dents based on their or their par­ents’ or guardians’ actual or per­ceived cit­i­zen­ship or immi­gra­tion sta­tus,” the Dear Col­league let­ter under­scored for schools that deny­ing edu­ca­tion to stu­dents because of their immi­gra­tion sta­tus vio­lates fed­eral law. plyer-guidance

Titles IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 pro­hibit dis­crim­i­na­tion on the basis of race, color, or national ori­gin, among other fac­tors, respec­tively, by pub­lic ele­men­tary and sec­ondary schools and by recip­i­ents of fed­eral assis­tance.  In 1982 the U.S. Supreme Court held in Plyler v. Doe that a state may not deny access to pub­lic edu­ca­tion to any child resid­ing in the state, no mat­ter his or her immi­gra­tion sta­tus.  The Court explained that deny­ing “inno­cent chil­dren” access to pub­lic edu­ca­tion “imposes a life­time of hard­ship on a dis­crete class of chil­dren not account­able for their dis­abling status…By deny­ing these chil­dren basic edu­ca­tion, we deny them the abil­ity to live within the struc­ture of our civic insti­tu­tions, and fore­close any real­is­tic pos­si­bil­ity that they will con­tribute in even the small­est way to the progress of our Nation.”

In recent years some states and school dis­tricts have tried to require par­ents to dis­close immi­gra­tion sta­tus or pro­vide doc­u­ments unavail­able to undoc­u­mented immi­grants when enrolling their chil­dren in pub­lic schools.  Such require­ments, as the new guid­ance reminds schools, vio­late fed­eral law.  They also run afoul of our val­ues as a nation of immi­grants.  As the Supreme Court wisely rec­og­nized, edu­ca­tion is the build­ing block to suc­cess.  Pro­vid­ing chil­dren access to high qual­ity edu­ca­tion not only serves those chil­dren well, but is also good pol­icy for our coun­try.  Stu­dents who receive high qual­ity edu­ca­tion have the poten­tial to become entre­pre­neurs boost­ing our econ­omy, sci­en­tists research­ing cures for thus far incur­able dis­eases, world lead­ers shap­ing global pol­icy, and so many other possibilities.

Today, 16 states have leg­isla­tively extended in-state tuition to undoc­u­mented stu­dents and other state schools have extended in-state tuition of their own accord, mak­ing col­lege a real­ity for many chil­dren who were brought to the U.S. as chil­dren, have stud­ied hard, and have grad­u­ated from Amer­i­can schools.  As the Court rec­og­nized in Plyler, and the DOJ and DOE under­scored with their guid­ance last week, all chil­dren should have access to high qual­ity edu­ca­tion, no mat­ter their immi­gra­tion sta­tus.  It is time to extend those prin­ci­ples nation­wide from ele­men­tary and sec­ondary schools to higher edu­ca­tion as well.

 


 

Las escue­las deben edu­car a todos los estu­di­antes, sin impor­tar su esta­tus migratorio

El Depar­ta­mento de Jus­ti­cia (DOJ) y el Depar­ta­mento de Edu­cación (DOE, por sus siglas en inglés) de los Esta­dos Unidos emi­tieron con­jun­ta­mente la sem­ana pasada una guía crítica para las escue­las a nivel nacional, recordán­doles su respon­s­abil­i­dad de pro­por­cionar edu­cación de cal­i­dad a todos los jóvenes, sin impor­tar su esta­tus migra­to­rio.  Afir­mando que “han encon­trado prác­ti­cas de inscrip­ción de estu­di­antes que pueden desan­i­mar o desalen­tar la par­tic­i­pación, o con­ll­e­var a la exclusión de  estu­di­antes basán­dose en la ciu­dadanía o esta­tus migra­to­rio real o percibido de ellos o sus padres o tutores”, la Carta a los Cole­gas recuerda a las escue­las que negar la edu­cación a los estu­di­antes por su esta­tus migra­to­rio es una vio­lación de la ley federal.

Los Artícu­los IV y VI de la Ley de Dere­chos Civiles de 1964 pro­híben la dis­crim­i­nación por motivos de raza, color u ori­gen nacional, entre otros fac­tores, respec­ti­va­mente, por parte de las escue­las públi­cas pri­marias y secun­darias y los recep­tores de asis­ten­cia fed­eral.  En 1982, el Tri­bunal Supremo de Esta­dos Unidos sos­tuvo en Plyler v. Doe que un estado no puede negar el acceso a la edu­cación pública a ningún niño que resida en el estado, sin impor­tar su esta­tus migra­to­rio.  La Corte explicó que negar a “niños inocentes” el acceso a la edu­cación pública, es “impon­erle una vida de penurias a unos niños que no son respon­s­ables de su condi­ción migra­to­ria… Al negarle a estos niños la edu­cación básica, se les niega la capaci­dad de vivir den­tro de la estruc­tura de nues­tras insti­tu­ciones cívi­cas y se excluye toda posi­bil­i­dad real de que con­tribuyan al pro­greso de nues­tra nación”.

En los últi­mos años, algunos esta­dos y dis­tri­tos esco­lares han inten­tado exi­gir a los padres cuando inscriben a sus hijos en las escue­las públi­cas que rev­e­len su esta­tus migra­to­rio o pro­por­cio­nen doc­u­men­tos que los inmi­grantes indoc­u­men­ta­dos no tienen.  Esos req­ui­si­tos, como le recuerda la nueva guía a las escue­las, violan la ley fed­eral; tam­bién entran en con­flicto con nue­stros val­ores como nación de inmi­grantes.  Como recono­ció sabi­a­mente la Corte Suprema, la edu­cación es la piedra angu­lar del éxito.  Pro­por­cionar a los niños acceso a una edu­cación de alta cal­i­dad no sólo le sirve a esos niños, tam­bién es una buena política para nue­stro país.  Los estu­di­antes que reciben una edu­cación de alta cal­i­dad tienen el poten­cial de con­ver­tirse en empre­sar­ios que impulsen nues­tra economía, cien­tí­fi­cos que inves­tiguen curas para enfer­medades hasta ahora incur­ables, líderes mundi­ales que con­tribuyan a la política global, y muchas otras posibilidades.

Hoy día, 16 esta­dos han exten­dido por ley la matrícula estatal a los estu­di­antes indoc­u­men­ta­dos y otras escue­las estatales lo han hecho por su propia vol­un­tad, haciendo real­i­dad la edu­cación para muchos niños que fueron traí­dos a Esta­dos Unidos cuando pequeños, han estu­di­ado mucho y se han grad­u­ado de escue­las amer­i­canas.  Como la Corte recono­ció en Plyler, y el DOJ y el DOE destac­aron con su guía de la sem­ana pasada, todos los niños deben tener acceso a edu­cación de alta cal­i­dad, sin impor­tar su esta­tus migra­to­rio.  Ya es hora de ampliar esos prin­ci­p­ios a nivel nacional, desde las escue­las pri­marias y secun­darias hasta la edu­cación superior.

 

 

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