Today, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we kick off our 50th Anniversary. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice was founded in 1968 in the midst of the assassination of Dr. King, and the findings of the Kerner Commission (which concluded that the nation was “moving toward two societies, one black, one white – separate and unequal”). We were founded to move the civil rights struggle from the streets to the courts. Fifty years later, we remain guided by the visionary work of Dr. King.
In addressing today’s civil rights challenges – often 21st century manifestations of the challenges we faced in 1968 – we still look to Dr. King’s pioneering vision:
- In 1968, Dr. King spoke of segregation that was “legally dead … but factually alive,” and he recognized that racial justice requires full integration of communities of color in all aspects of public life. In 2018, we continue to confront the power structures that keep many of our public institutions largely segregated – from our schools – and our police and firefighters – to our courts. Our advocacy is having a powerful diversifying effect, and we remain committed to achieving Dr. King’s goal of true integration.
- In 1968, Dr. King knew that economic opportunity was critical to the civil rights agenda, and he envisioned a multi-racial movement for economic justice. In 2018, we know that economic opportunity is critical to the civil rights agenda. That’s why we empower communities of color by helping entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Our pro bono attorneys help hundreds of minority-owned businesses each year to close the opportunity and wealth gaps that persists in this country.
- In 1968, Dr. King joined forces with Cesar Chavez, recognizing that the racial and immigrant justice movements “are really one – a struggle for freedom, for dignity and for humanity.” In 2018, we continue to believe deeply in these intersections. That’s why we are fighting back – successfully – to protect the rights of immigrant communities in the face of today’s unprecedented challenges.
In hindsight, the ideas that Dr. King espoused can seem non-controversial, but in 1968 they were earth-shattering. Today, we take that lesson to heart. That’s why our new Strategic Plan calls for us to continue deepening and expanding our creative and courageous work. We’re taking on more cutting-edge cases and breaking new legal ground. In partnership with law firms and community allies, we are bending the arc toward justice.
Join us as we celebrate our 50th Anniversary in 2018 – starting today with honoring the visionary legacy of Dr. King.Lawyers' Committee Case History 1968-2018