CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE NEWS
The Fight Against Human Trafficking and Discrimination
On April 27, 2023, the Greater New Orleans Human Trafficking Task Force galvanized federal and state subject matter experts to discuss the services, laws, provisions, and outreach provided by each entity. This was designed to educate the Consulate of Mexico in New Orleans and professionals of how we can assist the Hispanic community who have been subject to Human Trafficking and/or discrimination.
Pictured: Marvis Hicks, Atty., U.S. EEOC Outreach and Education Coordinator and Dr. Leah Raby, Executive Director, LA Commission on Human Rights- Office of the Governor
PHRC Executive Director appointed to Presidential Advisory Commission | May 2023
Harrisburg, PA- Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) Executive Director Chad Dion Lassiter, MSW has been appointed by President Biden to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunities for Black Americans.
“As a proud graduate of an HBCU, Johnson C. Smith University and the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice, I am honored to join this group of dedicated Americans to develop solutions to dismantle systemic and institutional racism and create more economic and educational opportunities for Black Americans,” said Chad Dion Lassiter, MSW. “During my time as the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, I have worked to intentionally create a culture of peace, understanding and tolerance while pursuing justice and eradicating discrimination. I plan to bring that same culture of thinking to this Commission.”
“This Advisory Commission will benefit greatly from Chad Dion Lassiter’s wealth of knowledge and experience,” said PHRC Chair M. Joel Bolstein. “His vision and leadership have enabled the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission to become one of the nation’s leading civil rights agencies. He is exactly who the nation needs to identify the appropriate programs and initiatives to create equitable and economic opportunities for Black Americans.”
The Commission will primarily focus on: 1) promoting career pathways for Black students through programs such as internships, apprenticeships and work-based learning initiatives, 2) increasing public awareness of the educational disparities Black Americans face and providing solutions to these problems, and 3) establishing local and national relationships with public, private, philanthropic, and nonprofit stakeholders to advance the mission of equity, excellence, and economic opportunity for Black Americans.
“I want to congratulate Chad Dion Lassiter on this well-deserved honor,” said U.S. Representative Dwight Evans (PA-03). “He serves the public well as Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, as he has done in numerous other leadership roles.”
Lassiter is a national expert in the field of American race relations who has worked on race, peace and poverty-related issues in the United States, Africa, Canada, Haiti, Israel, and Norway. As executive director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, he has developed and launched a “No Hate in Our State Townhall” to address the surge of White Nationalism in Pennsylvania, a “Social Justice Lecture Series” providing an outlet for communities to discuss imperative issues and serves as a Racial Reduction Response team for those communities impacted by hatred. Lassiter has also developed programs such as the “Global Social Justice Initiative,” “Black and Jewish Beloved Community Dialogue,” and the “College Race Dialogue Initiative.”
Lassiter received his master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Social Work, where he was the A. Phillip Randolph Award winner in 2001 and was the recipient of the prestigious Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Involvement Award in 2008. Lassiter is the co-founder and current president of The Black Men at Penn School of Social Work Inc., an organization within the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, the first Ivy League Black male group of social workers. In 2019, he was inducted into the School of Social Policy and Practice Alumni Hall of Fame.
Lassiter was recently chosen as the National Association of Social Workers- Pennsylvania chapter's Social Worker of the Year for 2021 and was recognized by The Philadelphia Tribune as Most Influential African American Leader from 2010 to 2022.
A Message from EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows for 2023 Jewish American Heritage Month | May 2023
May is Jewish American Heritage Month, an occasion to celebrate the important contributions of Jewish individuals and communities to the fabric of American life. As we recognize the important role of Jewish Americans in education, the military, the arts, science, government, and indeed every aspect of the nation’s economic and cultural life, we are reminded of America’s commitment to promoting safe, inclusive, and respectful environments where everyone can thrive.
This month is also an occasion to raise awareness about the disturbing prevalence of antisemitism and the importance of countering antisemitic stereotypes before they result in harassment or even violence. One painful reminder of that violence is the criminal trial taking place in Pittsburgh against the man charged with shooting and killing eleven people at the Tree of Life synagogue during Shabbat services in October 2018. Our hearts go out to the entire Jewish American community, especially in Pittsburgh, during this difficult time.
At the EEOC, we stand in support of the Jewish American community and the right to work in environments that are free from discrimination, harassment, and other forms of bias. Two years ago, in May 2021, I was pleased to join my fellow Commissioners in issuing a unanimous resolution condemning violence, harassment, and acts of bias against Jewish Americans and recognizing the imperative that Jewish persons “be treated with dignity and respect at work and in all other aspects of their lives.”
Today, the EEOC is participating in an interagency workgroup to develop strategies for countering antisemitism, Islamophobia, and related forms of bias and discrimination. I want to thank Vice Chair Jocelyn Samuels and her staff for leading the EEOC’s contributions to this interagency workgroup.
Finally, I am pleased to share that the EEOC has released a new fact sheet today on “What To Do If You Face Antisemitism at Work.” I hope this document will be a valuable resource to Jewish workers and, more broadly, to individuals of any background or faith who may face discrimination at work because of their religion or religious heritage.
PHRC Executive Director Responds to the Tyre Nichols Video | January 27, 2023
Harrisburg, PA- Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) Executive Director has released the following statement in response to the bodycam footage of the murder of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee.
“Once again, our nation is dealing with the murder of a Black man at the hands of police officers,” said Chad Dion Lassiter, PHRC Executive Director, MSW. “The brutality exhibited by these officers towards Tyre Nichols showed a severe lack of humanity. What started as a simple traffic stop escalated into the violent beating and killing of a man.
“This video is violent and horrific. Watching it triggered a form of vicarious traumatization for me. Therefore, everyone should be mindful of how the viewing of murder can impact their mental health.”
“While I was grateful to see the quick announcement of kidnapping and murder charges against the five officers, there is much more that needs to be done across the country, including in our commonwealth, to dismantle systemic racism and bias in our institutions and communities. We must insist on changing our police culture and ending a history of police violence against people of color. We can achieve this by ensuring our police departments have transparent policies and offer trainings in unconscious bias and ethnic intimidation.
“I stand in support of those who are calling for reforms and planning peaceful protests. PHRC will monitor events around Pennsylvania and the nation and will continue to play a vital role in eradicating racism and discrimination through training, advocacy and more.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis and in need of immediate help, please call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988. Mental health resources are available for those experiencing racial trauma, click here for more information.
The PHRC, the state’s leading social justice enforcement agency, urges anyone who has experienced acts of discrimination or hate to file a complaint with the PHRC by calling 717-787-4410. Information and resources are also available at www.PHRC.pa.gov.
MEDIA CONTACT: Amanda Brothman, Director of Communications
Ketanji Brown Jackson Confirmed to Supreme Court, Making History as First Black Female Justice | April 7, 2022
Washington — The Senate voted to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court on Thursday, cementing her place in history as the first Black woman to serve on the nation's highest court.
Jackson's confirmation as the 116th justice in U.S. history received bipartisan backing, with a final vote of 53 to 47 in the upper chamber. Three Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah, joined all 50 Democrats in supporting President Biden's nominee. Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman and first woman of color to hold the role, presided over the Senate during the vote.
"On this vote, the yays are 53. The nays are 47 and this nomination is confirmed," Harris said to rousing applause from senators.
Jackson's appointment to the high court is likely to be a significant component of Mr. Biden's legacy, and marked his first opportunity to make his imprint on the Supreme Court. But Jackson will not take the bench immediately, as Justice Stephen Breyer, whose seat she will fill, is poised to retire at the end of the Supreme Court's term this summer.
Mr. Biden watched the vote with Jackson in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. Photographers capture the two embracing as the Senate passed the threshold needed for her confirmation. Read more
Biden Signs Bill to Make Lynching a Federal Crime | March 29, 2022
President Biden’s signature ended more than 100 years of failed efforts by the federal government to specifically outlaw lynching.
WASHINGTON — President Biden on Tuesday signed a bill making lynching a federal crime, for the first time explicitly criminalizing an act that had come to symbolize the grim history of racism in the United States.
“Lynching was pure terror to enforce the lie that not everyone, not everyone belongs in America, not everyone is created equal,” Mr. Biden said, speaking to civil rights leaders and others in the Rose Garden of the White House.
Moments after Mr. Biden signed the law — named for Emmett Till, the Black boy who was murdered in Mississippi in 1955 — he described the atrocity that he said was carried out against 4,400 Blacks between 1877 and 1950.
“Terror, to systematically undermine hard, hard fought civil rights. Terror, not just in the dark of the night, but in broad daylight. Innocent men, women and children hung by nooses from trees,” he said. “Bodies burned and drowned and castrated. Their crimes? Trying to vote, trying to go to school, to try and own a business or preach the gospel.” Read more
A Proclamation on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, 2021| October 08, 2021
Since time immemorial, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians have built vibrant and diverse cultures — safeguarding land, language, spirit, knowledge, and tradition across the generations. On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, our Nation celebrates the invaluable contributions and resilience of Indigenous peoples, recognizes their inherent sovereignty, and commits to honoring the Federal Government’s trust and treaty obligations to Tribal Nations.
Our country was conceived on a promise of equality and opportunity for all people — a promise that, despite the extraordinary progress we have made through the years, we have never fully lived up to. That is especially true when it comes to upholding the rights and dignity of the Indigenous people who were here long before colonization of the Americas began. For generations, Federal policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures. Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples’ resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society. We also recommit to supporting a new, brighter future of promise and equity for Tribal Nations — a future grounded in Tribal sovereignty and respect for the human rights of Indigenous people in the Americas and around the world. Read more
House passes bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday.
The House voted overwhelmingly on to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, sending President Biden legislation to enshrine June 19 as the national day to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger announced in Galveston, Texas, the end of slavery in accordance with President Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. Read more
George Floyd’s family lobbies Biden for U.S. police reform on anniversary of death
Legislation has been pursued in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia to increase the accountability or oversight of police, and 24 states have enacted new laws. Read more
States Raced to Pass Police Reform Bills After George Floyd's Murder. Advocates Say Not Enough
Beyond its breadth, the legislation is notable for its speed. According to data legislators have introduced more than 3,000 policing policy bills, with significant legislation passing in 39 states as of late April. Read more
Louisiana Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Advances To Senate Floor, One Step From Governor’s Desk
A bill to decriminalize marijuana possession in Louisiana that already passed the House was approved in a Senate committee on Tuesday, sending it to the full chamber for final passage.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Cedric Glover (D), would make it so possession of up to 14 grams of cannabis would be punishable by a $100 fine without the threat of jail time. It cleared the Senate Judiciary C Committee in a 3-2 vote. Read more
VERIFY Weekly: One year after George Floyd was killed, here's where the US stands on police reform
WFMY – Greensboro, NC
Yes, there is a national database where people can check the status of a variety of police reform bills and current guidelines. It's called the National Conference of State Legislatures. People can check everything from executive orders to new policing methods that have been introduced. The database includes law enforcement legislation from all 50 states and also Washington D.C. It is free to use. There are several ways to search for legislation or topics, including by keyword, year and state. Read more