The Atlanta Lawyer November 2014 | Page 10

50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act A JOURNEY BACK IN TIME The National Center for Civil & Human Rights By Labor & Employment Law Section Chair Benjamin I. Fink (Berman Fink Van Horn P.C.) and Labor & Employment Law Section Vice Chair/Chair-Elect Craig Cleland (Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart PC) A s we all know, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation in places of public accommodation and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The Civil Rights Act is considered one of the crowning legislative achievements of the civil rights movement. It is incredible to think that only a short 50 years ago, this type of discrimination was not against the law. In many ways, Atlanta was the epicenter of the Civil Rights Movement. The heroic acts of its citizens, students, educators, and leaders were instrumental in overcoming segregation and establishing legislative change. Atlanta has indeed “risen up.” Today, Atlanta is a growing, vibrant, and diverse community. It was only appropriate that we, as members of the Atlanta Bar, celebrate the passage of this historic legislation. Accordingly, on November 18th at the new National Center for Civil & Human Rights on Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard, the Atlanta Bar Association’s Labor & Employment Section held a reception to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act’s enactment. Over 200 people attended the event. In addition to the many state and federal judges and justices who attended the event, we were honored to have The Honorable Kasim Reed, Mayor of the City of Atlanta, attend and make poignant and inspiring remarks about the Act, the Civil Rights Movement, Atlanta’s role, and the people who made it happen. In particular, Mayor Reed captured the essence of this anniversary by paying tribute to notable leaders like Dr. King and Ivan Allen as well as to the many unsung heroes of the Movement. Their courage, steadfastness, and vision, the Mayor said, not only helped make the Civil Rights Act a reality, but also “kept Atlanta on the right side of history.” 10 THE ATLANTA LAWYER November 2014 The new Civil Rights Center enriched the evening, according to attorney Chrisna Jones. She found visiting the exhibit with her 75-year-old sister “a particularly moving experience” because her sister, who worked in the Albany movement and in the SNCC, pointed to photos of people “she actually knew and worked with” and told stories about them, some “recalled because of the photo before her.” We are truly blessed to have the Civil Rights Center here in Atlanta, and there could have been no more appropriate place at which to hold the celebration. If you have not yet had a chance to visit the Center, you need to do so. The tissues available throughout the Center do not go unused. The event was co-sponsored by the State Bar of Georgia Labor & Employment Law Section, the Atlanta Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, the Gate City Bar Association, the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers, the Labor & Employment Committee of the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia, the Family Law Section of the Atlanta Bar Association, NELA-GA, the State Bar Committee to Promote Inclusion in the Profession, the Stonewall Bar Association of Georgia, and the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys. This multi-bar event was a great tribute to this legislation and to all those who made it happen. We want to especially thank our corporate sponsors for their generous contributions without whom we could not have had this event. They are as follows: Platinum: Alston & Bird, The Buckley Law Firm, King & Spalding, Klein ADR, and Ogletree Deakins; Gold: Berman Fink Van Horn, Barrett & Farahany, and Troutman Sanders; Silver: Robbins, Ross, Alloy, Belinfante, Littlefied, Slappy & Sadd, and DeLong, Caldwell, Bridgers, Fitzpatrick. The Official News Publication of the Atlanta Bar Association