As someone who grew up in the Jim Crow South, I was frightened and disheartened by the ongoing assault on civil rights during this election cycle. Now that it is over, we are staring at the grim reality of overt threats to the basic Constitutional rights pinning our democracy together.
As a nonpartisan legal advocacy organization, the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (CLC) does not endorse or oppose any candidate or political party. Our Voting Rights Project works to protect and expand access to the ballot for all voters regardless of political affiliation, and yesterday fielded more than one thousand calls from voters facing barriers to the ballot box. CLC is proud of its work with Democrats and Republicans promoting and advocating for civic empowerment.
Yet today we must address the undeniable dangers confronting vulnerable communities in the wake of this election.
In Chicago and across Illinois, people of color now face an imminent threat to their physical safety unleashed by the legitimization of hateful rhetoric and incitement. This is an environment not dissimilar to the violent mobs of the 1960s that first gave rise to the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee. In the aftermath of Jim Crow riots, police brutality, and mass arrests, CLC arose as part of the northern flank of the civil rights movement.
With clear signals that more than 60 years of hard-won civil rights gains may be rolled back, our historic mission to champion racial equity and combat discrimination is now more important than ever.
The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee will be vigilant in working with impacted communities and broad-based coalitions to understand the unfolding situation. We will stand firm and ready to work with our allies guarding against hate crimes that target Muslims, immigrants, LGBTQ people, Latinos, and other marginalized groups. We will oppose crackdowns on civilians and denial of constitutional rights in the criminal justice system and in policing. We will raise the alarm on any restriction of the free press or punitive political threats. We will work with our partner groups to assist immigrant and undocumented communities whose futures have been made uncertain. We will be unwavering in our continued advocacy for educational equity and fair housing, and we will hold both Republican and Democratic leaders accountable for civil rights violations.
A veil has been lifted on the ugly face of racism, sexism, and xenophobia in this country. The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee will plant ourselves at the gates of hope, as Rev. Victoria Safford said, putting ourselves “in the place of resistance and defiance, from which you see the world both as it is and as it could be, as it will be.” The diverse communities of this nation now face uncharted territory. It is out of crisis that the journey forward begins.
Please join us in the critical work ahead by supporting the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee today.