Commission honors leaders, organizations
The Tennessee Human Rights Commission, The state’s civil rights enforcement agency celebrated its first 50 years Thursday while disagreeing with the U.S. Supreme Court’s arguments about a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.
The Tennessee Human Rights Commission was established in 1963, and citizens gathered at the Tennessee State Museum reminisce about its first half-century and to honor some of Nashville’s most prominent human rights advocates.
The Commission is an independent state agency responsible for enforcing the Tennessee Human Rights Act and the Tennessee Disability Act which prohibit discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodation on the basis of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, disability, familial status (housing only) and age (40 and over in employment). The Commission is also responsible for coordinating the State of Tennessee’s compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination based on race, color and national origin by State agencies receiving federal financial assistance.
The Commission has cooperative agreements with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These agreements allow the federal and state agencies to coordinate their investigations and avoid duplication of efforts in seeking to end discrimination.
Linda T. Wynn, a noted historian at Fisk University, was the featured speaker and spoke to the audience about the Emancipation Proclamation, the Civil War and the current civil rights movement.
Wynn concluded her remarks by addressing the Supreme Court’s deliberations Wednesday on the Voting Rights Act, which Congress passed in 1965. Justice Antonin Scalia said the law is now a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”
Wynn sharply disagreed. “Justice Scalia, voting is not an entitlement,” she said. “It is the foundation of everything America stands for.” She said The 15th Amendment of the Constitution should be a concern for all Americans.