Love and Civil Rights
29 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2017
Date Written: May 7, 2015
Despite western legal scholars’ almost universal rejection of the use of emotions in legal analysis, the unquestionable greatest social activist and grassroots legal reformer of our times, and perhaps one of the greatest in the annals of time, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, understood a basic yet profound fact concerning societal change — the transformative power of love. During the era where he achieved the greatest influence, Dr. King knew that societal-wide change could not occur without transforming the American psyche on the basic fairness of the civil rights struggle. This civil rights struggle, which is now so closely associated with King’s proper place in history, occurred through victories in both our federal courts and through federal legislation. Arguably, the most important and influential victories of the era’s struggle is the nationwide legislative victory of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and Title VII of that act, both of which were aimed to end discrimination.
The year 2014 marks the fiftieth anniversary of this most important victory, the landmark legislation that outlawed various forms of discrimination in voting, public facilities, public education, housing, credit, and employment (under Title VII). Title VII, which is the focus of this symposium issue, declared it an “unlawful employment practice for an employer... to discriminate against any individual... because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” Congress’ intent was to promote equal employment opportunities by prohibiting policies and practices that are prejudicial to historically mistreated groups, especially African-Americans. Indeed, as Professor Kerri Stone eloquently observed, “federal antidiscrimination law was passed in this country against the backdrop of a compelling need for certain historically discriminated-against groups to be afforded access, entrée, and inclusion into public life, including employment.”
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