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Amid Threats to Justice, Civil Rights Act Turns 54

This famous inscription is on the Statue of Liberty, the site where many immigrants arrived in America in the early 20th century.

"Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

The Statue of Liberty represents hope for the hopeless, welcome to the poor, courage to the meek. “Facing outward toward the ocean, her lamp is a beacon on stormy seas, drawing to her shores, those from afar who seek a better life.” The Golden Door is their “entrance into liberty and freedom from oppression that is the promise of America - a land, a people, a way of life.”

Monday marked 54 years since President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 put in place legal recourse meant to shield against discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” Together with the Immigration Act of 1965, among other factors, immigrants of all colors were welcomed into the country.

Despite the tremendous progress our country has made since 1964, those obstacles that the Act sought to do away with continue to rear their ugly heads. This has been especially true since the inauguration of our current POTUS. Past civil rights challenges have re-emerged anew, and completely new obstacles have arisen, as we continue the fight for liberty and justice for all. The Trump administration threatens Muslims, southern border Hispanic immigrants and others who are protected class members of this historic legislation. Hashtags like #Blacklivesmatter, #Metoo, #Dreamers, and #Wherearethechildren have dominated the internet in recent times.

While America has made much progress over the last 50-plus years, the Civil Rights Act must continue to shape our nation’s definition of and access to equal opportunity. It’s time we redefine what it means to be an American. I have a dream today…

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