This month, specifically July 2nd, marks the 48th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The most widely known part of this Act is Title VII, which prohibits discrimination in the workplace. It is remarkable to think that not that long ago, a law that simply sought to prohibit discrimination based on person’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin was highly controversial and met with strong opposition and protests. The struggles that led to the passage of this law reflect both our best and our worst. Since then, anti-discrimination protections have been extended to cover pregnancy, age and disabilities. Opponents argued (and are still arguing) that such laws were an intrusion by the federal government into the affairs of private business, and that businesses would suffer. Businesses have not only prospered, they have benefited from the diversity of their workforce which resulted from these laws.
We should all take time to reflect and pay homage to those who struggled greatly for the passage of these laws, and remain steadfast to ensuring that the civil rights of workers neither be eroded nor threatened.
“Nothing is politically right which is morally wrong.”
-Daniel O’Connel, Letter to the Earl of Shrewbury