The Civil Rights Act: 50 and going strong

Message from CAIR-TX Executive Director Mustafaa Carroll:

27592210_mJuly 2, 2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act by President Lyndon Baines Johnson.  This landmark civil rights legislation outlawed discrimination based upon race, color, religion, gender, or national origin. The Act was precipitated by years of struggle, and did not come about easily.

Amid protests from the African-American community, President John F. Kennedy first called for the bill in his civil rights speech June 11, 1963. He asked for legislation giving all Americans the right to be served in public facilities such as hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail stores, and similar establishments.  The Act also ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools.  Prior to the Act African-Americans (and other non-whites) had to pay poll tax or take intelligence quotient (IQ) tests in order to vote.  Unfortunately, Kennedy was assassinated November 22, 1963 and did not live to see this legislation pass.

It is important to note when CAIR-TX defends the civil rights of Muslims it does so under the auspices of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Act applies to private action. Title VII of the Act applies to employment discrimination, and Title II applies to Public Accommodation Discrimination. This means all people who live in the United States, whether citizens or not, benefit from the protections of this legislation. We should therefore be thankful that our right to worship freely, to express our religion openly, to live where our income allows, and to be awarded employment based solely upon our skill sets and/or education are protected.

Although much progress has been made we still struggle with discrimination.  We should remember that freedom is not free. We must still work and struggle to protect our civil rights. May Allah guide and protect us all.

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