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Dr. Leland Ware leads a seminar on civil rights legislation

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Georgia Lawyers Honored for Civil Rights Contributions

 

Dr. Leland Ware

Suzanne Monyak, Daily Report

June 4, 2015

The  State  Bar  of  Georgia  and  the  Center  for  Civil  and  Human  Rights  on  Wednesday honored 129 Georgia lawyers for  their  work  on  civil  rights  matters  between  1960  and  1970.  Bar  president  Patrise  Perkins Hooker  presented  each  honoree  who  attended  the  event  with the  Celebration  of  Civil  Rights  Milestones  Award  recognizing  their  contributions  in  pushing for  equality  and  integration  of  African Americans.

The  event  began  with  a  youth  program  on  "The  Story  Behind  Selma,"  held  at  the  Center  for Civil  and  Human  Rights,  followed  by  a  Continuing  Legal  Education  seminar  on  civil  rights legislation,  the  awards  ceremony  and  reception  for  the  honorees,  and  finally  a  panel  of  civil rights  leaders  who  discussed  their  experiences.

Led  by  Holland  &  Knight's  Charles  S.  Johnson  III  and Leland  Ware,  a  University  of  Delaware law  professor,  the  packed  seminar focused  on  progress  and  recent  setbacks  for  minority voting  rights  since  the  passage  of  the  Voting  Rights  Act  50  years  ago.

Johnson  and  Ware  took  aim  at  the  2013  U.S.  Supreme  Court  decision  to  strike  down  a  key section  of  the  Voting  Rights  Act. Under  Section  5,  states  with  histories  of  discriminatory voting  proceduresincluding  Georgiawere  required  to  obtain preclearance,  either  from the  U.S.  attorney  general  or  a  three judge  panel  at the  U.S.  District  Court  in  Washington, before  making  any  changes  to  their  voting  laws.

The  high  court  gutted  Section  5  when  it  struck  down  Section  4(b),  which  determined  which states  would  need  preclearance.

Chief  Justice  John  Roberts  wrote  for  the  54 majority,  finding  that  Section  4(b)  had  "no logical  relationship  to  the  present  day" because  the  law,  which  had  been  extended  by Congress  over  the  years,  was  based  on  data  from 1975.

Ware  blasted  the  ruling,  which  he  called  a  "BS  opinion"  and  a  "backhanded  slap."

"How  can  one  guy  say,  'Well,  Congress,  you  didn't  know  what  you  were  doing,  you're  stupid, so  I'm  just  going  to  reverse everything  you  said,  and  I'm  going  to  decide  that  racial discrimination  is  in  a  distant  past.  The  Voting  Rights  Act  is  no  longer  needed,'  citing  no evidence  whatsoever,  but  just  deciding  arrogantly  that  that  would  be  the  case,"  Ware  said. "It's  simply  unprecedented,  simply  unlawful."

The  event  concluded  with  a  panel  of  six  civil  rights  activists:  Joanne  Bland,  the  Rev.  Dr. Bernard  Lafayette,  Charles  Mauldin,  Dr.  Frederick  Douglas  Reese  Sr.,  and  Sheyann  Webb-Christburg.

WebbChristburg,  named  the  "Smallest  Freedom  Fighter"  at  age  8  by  Dr.  Martin  Luther  King Jr.,  shared  her  experiences growing  up  surrounded  by  racism  in  Selma  during  the  1960s, where  AfricanAmericans  were  barred  from  entering  stores, restaurants,  and  "even  simple places  like  the  Dairy  Queen."

She  recalled  her  first  encounter  with  King,  who  invited  her  to  watch  a  meeting  and  inspired her  future  activism.

"I  can  never  pay  the  debt  that  I  owe  this  great  man,"  she  said.

Reese  was  a  teacher  and  the  president  of  the  Dallas  County  Voter's  League  when  he  invited the  Southern  Christian  Leadership Conference  and  King  to  Selma  to  aid  a  voting  rights campaign.  He  advised  today's  youth  to  exhibit  the  determination  shown  by  students  during the  movement.

"Young  people  today,  they  do  not  have  the  same  kind  of  determination  that  we  had,"  he  said. "Forget  about  skin  color,  think  about  the  character  a  person  has."

At  the  awards  ceremony,  Dr.  Jacqueline  Jones  Royster,  dean  of  the  Ivan  Allen  College  of Liberal  Arts  at  the  Georgia  Institute of  Technology,  announced  an  endowed  scholarship  in  PerkinsHooker's  honor,  to  be  presented  annually  to  an  AfricanAmerican student  in  metro Atlanta enrolled  in  Tech's  prelaw  program.

Read the original article.

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The Georgia State Bar and the Center for Civil and Human Rights honored Georgia lawyers for work on civil rights matters. Led by Charles S. Johnson III and Leland Ware, the seminar focused on progress and recent setbacks for minority voting rights.
6/4/2015
 
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