NAACP Legal Defense Fund Honors the 53rd Anniversary of the March on Washington

 Legal Defense Fund Honors the

53rd Anniversary of the March on Washington

Fifty-three years ago, on August 28, 1963, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. exhorted the audience of 250,000 people who had gathered at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom never to be satisfied “as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality…” and “as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote.”

“This country has made great strides since those brave men, women, and children converged on our nation’s capital to issue a clarion call for racial justice and equality, but there is no question that too many of the indignities and injustices Dr. King and the marchers decried persist,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. “Too many minority communities still face unjust policing, as the headlines remind us all too often. Too many people are still being denied their fundamental right to vote through stringent laws and suppressive tactics,” Ifill continued. “We must commemorate these historic events, but we cannot be satisfied with celebration alone. These moments must catalyze us to continue to press the vital civil rights work of our day.”

On the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington just three years ago, Ifill stated from the podium on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that she stood on behalf of “the people we represent from all over the country… who bravely stood up to fight for equality and fairness in voting and in the political process”. She reminded the audience that LDF has alone represented those who have been stopped, frisked, foreclosed on, shut out, profiled. Children placed in the school-to-prison pipeline. Men who’ve been sentenced to death row because they are black.” LDF still fights to vindicate the rights of marginalized individuals and communities like the ones on whose behalf Dr. King so brilliantly advocated, and will continue to stand for them in 2016 and beyond. Here is a snapshot of our work this year:

  • Police-involved shootings across the nation have illuminated what African-Americans have lived, known and fought against for far too long that our law enforcement system is deeply biased. LDF’s Policing Reform Campaign, which seeks to advance laws, policies, and practices that will result in unbiased and responsible policing, is committed to ensuring that federal processes such as the recent Department of Justice investigation into the Baltimore Police Department, do not merely lead to short-term solutions, but also yield lasting, institutional change. Ongoing transparency and accountability from law enforcement are essential to any meaningful reform and are demands LDF has consistently made, such as in the case of Korryn Gaines.
  • As we head toward the first presidential election in half a century without the full protection of the seminal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), we know that serious threats to equal political participation not only persist, but are ever-expanding. Fifteen states have enacted a range of voting restrictions since the Supreme Court of the United States gutted the VRA in 2013, making it increasingly difficult for minorities to exercise their right to vote. LDF’s state-by-state resource, Democracy Diminished, details numerous voting changes that have led to widespread voter suppression. LDF monitors equally restrictive changes on local levels as well which disproportionately affect minority voters and go largely unnoticed. Alongside key partner organizations, we are hard at work educating citizens about voting requirements in advance of November’s election. LDF is also aggressively challenging strict voter photo ID laws in Alabama, Texas, Georgia and Louisiana. We are also working in Washington, DC to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to its full power and promise.
  • Americans across the country are collectively calling for racial bias to be eradicated from the criminal justice system. LDF will be arguing on behalf of Duane Buck in front of the Supreme Court this October. Mr. Buck’s own lawyer introduced expert testimony that said he was more likely to be dangerous in the future because he was Black, yet he has been denied a full and fair review of his death sentence.

LDF is also fighting for fair housing, equality in education, protection for African-American consumers, and more. “Our work is not done, and we are not satisfied,” said Janai Nelson, Associate Director-Counsel of LDF. “We celebrate the March on Washington and the marchers by continuing to champion their cause in the courtroom, Congress, and communities nationwide to ensure that durable systemic civil rights reforms become reality.”

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Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.

 
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