It has been an honor to serve as chair of the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities. I am especially excited about the focus of my term as chair—“More to Overcome: Civil Rights in the Twenty-First Century.” This year’s theme and the theme for this issue were chosen to remind us that while progress has been made to protect the civil rights for everyone, there is much work left to do. Under the leadership of the co-chair of the Section’s Civil Rights committee, Sheila Thomas, and the expert and tireless guidance of Division Director Mary Smith, the Section is hosting a series of panels called “Debunking the Myth of a Post-Racial Society.” These panels serve as a basis for discussions that challenge the notion that we are living in a post-racial society in the wake of the election of President Barack H. Obama as the first African-American president of the United States.
We began our activities with our fall 2010 meeting in Memphis, Tennessee, and will end in Toronto, Canada, where we will celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Thurgood Marshall Award by recognizing the achievements of civil rights stalwart Elaine R. Jones. Also, be sure to attend in Toronto the final two panels in our series—Presidential Showcase program “More to Overcome: Civil Rights in the Twenty-First Century,” which will feature four past Thurgood Marshall awardees discussing the civil rights movement, past, present, and future, and our final panel on “Debunking the Myth of a Post-Racial Society.”
The notion of a post-racial society suggests that we no longer need to focus on civil rights and that everyone has an opportunity to succeed based on individual efforts. However, the statistics suggest otherwise. One only need look at education, health care, housing, employment, and the criminal justice system to know there is much work left to do. As my fellow Section officer, Myles Lynk, says, “we cannot rest on our laurels because we have no laurels to rest upon.” Yes, we have achieved milestones, but we do have miles to go before we rest. NOW IS THE TIME, and I challenge you to join us as we collaborate with community groups, civil rights organizations, and other professional disciplines to ensure barriers for all members of our society are eliminated and that we can one day truly say that we are living in a post-racial society.