By Mary Frances Berry
Mary Frances Berry, the commission’s chairperson for greater than a decade, writer of My Face Is Black Is True (“An crucial bankruptcy in American historical past from a distinct historian”—Nell Painter), tells of the commission’s founding in 1957 through President Eisenhower, in accordance with burgeoning civil rights protests; the way it used to be designed to be an autonomous bipartisan Federal agency—made up of six individuals, with out greater than 3 from one political occasion, freed from interference from Congress and presidents—beholden to no govt physique, with complete subpoena energy, and unfastened to determine what it should examine and file on.
Berry writes that the fee, instead of generating studies that might assemble airborne dirt and dust at the cabinets, started to carry hearings whilst it was once below assault from Southern segregationists. She writes how the commission’s hearings and stories helped the nonviolent protest move prick the sense of right and wrong of the kingdom then at the highway to dismantling segregation, starting with the battles in Montgomery and Little Rock, the sit-ins and freedom rides, the March on Washington.
We see how reluctant govt witnesses and native electorate overcame their worry of reprisal and courageously got here ahead to testify ahead of the fee; how the fee used to be instrumental in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the balloting Rights Act of 1965; how Congress quickly additional to the commission’s jurisdiction the overseeing of discriminating practices—with regard to intercourse, age, and disability—which helped within the enactment of the Age Discrimination Act of 1978 and the americans With Disabilities Act of 1990.
Berry writes approximately how the commission’s tracking of police neighborhood kinfolk and affirmative motion used to be fought by way of quite a few U.S. presidents, leader between them Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, every one of whom fired commissioners who disagreed with their guidelines, between them Dr. Berry, exchanging them with commissioners who supported their ideological pursuits; and the way those commissioners started to downplay the necessity to therapy discrimination, ignoring experiences of unequal entry to health and wellbeing care and employment opportunities.
Finally, Dr. Berry’s ebook makes transparent what's wanted for the longer term: a reconfigured fee, totally autonomous, with an elevated mandate to aid oversee all human rights and to make solid the promise of democracy—equal safety less than the legislations despite race, colour, sexual orientation, faith, incapacity, or nationwide origin.
From the Hardcover edition.
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And Justice for All by Mary Frances Berry