The civil rights of millions of people living in America are under explicit and rampant attack from the highest levels of government with intensity that we have not seen since the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area was founded almost 50 years ago. Unbowed and unafraid, we are staffing up and doubling down on our resolve to uphold the integrity of the law and to continue the steady march toward justice and equality.
The obstacles are significant, but not insurmountable.
Government accountability will be a significant part of our charge over the next several years. As the President tapped an avowed white nationalist as his closest advisor and with race- and religion-based attacks on the rise, the Senate has confirmed as the new U.S. Attorney General a man who stirred Coretta Scott King to oppose his appointment as a federal judge in 1986. Mrs. King cited “his indifference toward criminal violations of civil rights laws” as evidence “that he lacks the temperament, fairness and judgment to be a federal judge.”
Consequently, rather than submitting evidence of civil rights violations to the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division with a reasonable expectation of robust investigation and legal action consistent with the nation’s civil rights laws, we anticipate having to appeal DOJ actions (or inaction) to the courts and pursue local and state remedies through legislation and the courts.
As the tides of oppression roll in, we must not let the progress we have made get swept out to sea by those who would strengthen voter suppression laws, finish unraveling public education, criminalize communities of color, and drive more people into the clutches of persistent poverty.
We must invigorate our core mission and intensify our valued pro bono and community partnerships to protect, enforce, and advance racial justice, immigrant justice, and economic justice on behalf of marginalized individuals and communities. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in a 1955 speech, “When the history books are written in the future, somebody will have to say, ‘There lived…a people who had the moral courage to stand up for their rights. And thereby they injected a new meaning into the veins of history and of civilization.’”
Now is the time to stand up. To be empowered. To get involved. Donate to support our work and advocacy. Volunteer to provide pro bono legal services or to serve as a mentor attorney. Let’s work together to push against the tide and gain, not lose, ground.
Kimberly Thomas Rapp