RALEIGH — State Rep. Garland Pierce led a Wednesday ceremony at the N.C. General Assembly to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1994 Civil Rights Act.
Pierce, who represents portions of Richmond, Scotland, Hoke and Robeson counties in House District 48, is chairman of the N.C. Legislative Black Caucus, which held the observance in the General Assembly’s press conference room.
Fifty years ago Wednesday, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This historic piece of legislation promised to establish equal opportunity under the law for all Americans.
“On the 50th anniversary of this landmark legislation in our nation’s history, let us remember all the men and women, and their contributions to making America a more just and civil society and acknowledge that there is still work to be done,” Pierce said.
The Legislative Black Caucus said in a statement that the Civil Rights Act brought an end to the nation’s “blunt discrimination and segregation.”
“It took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears so that all Americans can have the rights to a good, quality education, to vote and to freely shop and eat anywhere of their choosing,” the caucus said. “It also paved the way for future legislation, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that protects everyone’s right to vote.”
Pierce closed the ceremony with a portion of Johnson’s speech after signing the act into law.
“My fellow citizens, we have come now to a time of testing,” Piece quoted Johnson as saying. “We must not fail. Let us close the springs of racial poison. Let us pray for wise and understanding hearts. Let us lay aside irrelevant differences and make our nation whole. Let us hasten that day when our unmeasured strength and our unbounded spirit will be free to do the great works ordained for this nation by the just and the wise God who is the father of us all.”
The North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus is an association made up of state senators and representatives of African-American and Native American heritage. Its primary purpose is to operate as a vehicle through which African-Americans and people of color residing in the State of North Carolina, will be able to exercise their political power in a unified manner, according to the group.