Lecture – The Fierce Urgency of Now – Fighting for Civil Rights in 2020

Available with English captions.

Presented by Catherine E. Lhamon, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights – Visiting Scholar Series

In this talk, Catherine E. Lhamon presents an overview of the work of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Created by the Civil Rights Act of 1957, this independent, bipartisan federal agency acts as “the nation’s eyes and ears on civil rights,” she says. The commission makes “recommendations for what federal civil rights policy should be.”

Over the past year, the commission has released studies examining the prevalence of hate crimes, the consequences of incarceration, the separation of children and families at the border, the condition of immigration detention centers, school discipline, and more. “What we have documented in these reports distills to this: the impulse to discriminate remains strong in this country,” she asserts.

Watch now to learn more about:

  • The history and current research work of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
  • Recent studies conducted by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on hate crimes, incarceration, separation of immigrant children and families, school discipline, and more
  • Disparity in school suspensions for students with disabilities versus students without disabilities

Central to Lhamon’s talk is an examination of the commission’s report on school discipline, “Beyond Suspensions: Examining School Discipline Policies and Connections to the School-to-Prison Pipeline for Students of Color With Disabilities.”

The study compared rates of the disparity in school suspensions for students with disabilities with students without disabilities. It also focused on rates of school expulsion for Black, multiracial, Native American/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander American students. The report’s findings, Lhamon states, point to the need for Congress to supply funding for more counselors and social workers in schools.

Based on these reports and her long history of working on civil rights issues, Lhamon says, we “have distance yet to travel to achieve the ideals that Dr. Martin Luther King promised.” She adds that the fight for civil rights is an enduring struggle that now requires vigilance in today’s social climate.

This talk, Lhamon hopes, “will be the reminder that each of us has capacity, and, I think, moral imperative to take steps within our power to improve justice in our communities.”