Civil rights matters – that’s the message sent by U.S. Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (D-Missouri) and House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-California) as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to reexamine the applicability of Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866.
They cosponsored a resolution in the U.S. House reaffirming the vital importance of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1866, specifically the impact that Section 1981 of the act has had on ensuring equitable and equal contracting among businesses and individuals.
“I am honored to join with Chairwoman Maxine Waters to assert our strong belief that systematic racism is still pervasive in American life and American commerce,” Clay stated, “and as such, it is essential that Congress reaffirm its original intent for enacting this law, namely, protecting the most vulnerable from all forms of discrimination in our nation’s business places.”
In the aftermath of the Civil War, African Americans suffered through a tumultuous integration in which they were systematically and routinely subject to laws, such as the Black Codes, designed to restrict African American’s freedom and keep formerly enslaved persons from thriving in society.
In response, Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1866 to accomplish three primary objectives: to establish that all persons born in the United States were to be considered citizens; to clearly define the rights guaranteed by American citizenship; and to make it unlawful for any person to deprive another of these rights based on race.
The law’s Section 1981 is an extension of these objectives, specifically enumerating protections for citizens when contracting and crafting a legal avenue for the racially discriminated to seek justice.
This resolution acknowledges the history of Section 1981, its significance, and its integral role as a key pillar of civil rights jurisprudence.