Niagara Gazette — Wow, nearly 50 years have flown by since that game changing, Aug. 28 1963 March on Washington triggered a series of decisions and actions that would change everything.
Barely 14 years old, I so desperately wanted to be there that it physically hurt when my parents decided that I could not go.
Looking back over the years it is easy to see that a lot of good things have happened since then including, for example:
• The Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed by Congress and signed into law by President Johnson implementing the most sweeping action since post slavery Reconstruction after the Civil War. The law prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, or national origin and it gave the federal government the power to enforce it.
• The Voting Rights Act of 1965 authorized by Congress and signed into law by President Johnson on August 10, 1965, the law addressed registration and voting in Southern states where literacy tests, poll taxes and all manner of devices were being used to suppress voting by black Americans solely on the basis of race.
• Executive Order 11246, signed six weeks later by Johnson required government contractors to “take affirmative action” toward the hiring and employment of black Americans who were being systematically excluded and over looked by the process.
• The Civil Rights Act of 1968 approved by Congress and signed into law by Johnson on April 11, 1968 just four days after 39 year old Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, prohibited racial discrimination in the rental, sale and financing of housing.
• The Civil Rights Restoration Act, passed by Congress on March 22, 1988 over President Ronald Reagan’s veto extended non-discrimination laws into private institutions receiving federal money.
• The University Of Michigan Law School’s pro affirmative action admissions policy was upheld (5-4) by the Supreme Court almost exactly ten years ago on June 23, 2003 holding that race can be one of the factors considered by colleges.