Civil Rights Act Anniversary a Celebration of Independence

Jul 1, 2004

(Washington, DC) - House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair James E. Clyburn issued the following statement on the eve of the 40th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act just three days before America celebrates Independence Day. 

"This is a weekend of celebration.  For Americans of all religions, race, creed or color, Friday marks the 40th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.  For many of us, this historic document is our real Declaration of Independence.  It is our manifestation that in fact 'all men are created equal.' 

"From the time that Thomas Jefferson wrote those historic words, it took African Americans nearly 200 years to legally enjoy the rights this language conveys.  However, despite the Civil Rights Act's implementation, discrimination and its affects still linger in America. 

"Here in South Carolina the State Human Affairs agency I ran for 18 years still handles over 2,300 employment discrimination cases annually.  Just around the corner from my district Congressional office a broker for an upscale condominium complex was recently caught on tape by a local television station admitting she doesn't sell to African Americans.  And in neighboring Lexington County, race-baiters started a vicious whisper campaign in last month's Republican primary run-off against a female candidate of Indian descent and the Sikh religion because she dared challenge a long-serving white, male incumbent.   The Clarendon County school at the center of South Carolina's integration case that became Brown v. Board of Education is today virtually all-black because virtually all white families send their children to private school rather than have them educated alongside black students. 

"In America we can legislate discrimination out of our policies, but unfortunately legislation cannot eliminate it from our actions.  So this weekend as we celebrate Independence Day and commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, I pray that all Americans will work harder to embrace and practice the rights and freedoms to which our great country expresses commitment in our Constitution.  For it is only through our individual and collective actions that we demonstrate who and what we really are as a people."

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