Press Release

Civil Rights Leaders Meet with Senate Democratic Leadership, Discuss Efforts to Combat Hate and Protect Civil Rights

Washington, DC, September 7, 2017 – Today, civil rights leaders met with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other members of the Democratic caucus to discuss post-Charlottesville efforts to combat hate and protect civil rights. The groups participating in the meeting, convened at the request of Leader Schumer, included The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Anti-Defamation League; Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Human Rights Campaign; MALDEF; Muslim Advocates; NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.; and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Among the topics discussed were: the rise of domestic hate groups and white nationalist extremism; the increase in hate incidents and domestic terrorism around the United States fueled by racism and religious intolerance; the need to protect voting rights at the federal, state, and local level; the urgent need to protect Dreamers, and other issues concerning federal civil rights enforcement and policies, including congressional oversight of the executive branch.

The groups reiterated to senators that violent extremism has no place in America. The white supremacist rallies and hate-fueled violence around the country, marked by the recent events in Charlottesville, runs counter to the values that animate their organizations’ work. The groups noted that while bipartisan condemnation by lawmakers of the violence in Charlottesville was welcome and important, Congress also needs to reject policies that exclude and divide us as a nation and advance measures that combat hate as well as promote American values of inclusion, fairness, and justice.

The civil rights groups, through The Leadership Conference, had reached out in August to set up a similar meeting with the Republican congressional leadership. To date, neither Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell nor Speaker Paul Ryan have made themselves directly available for such a meeting. The civil rights leaders stand ready to meet with Republican leadership as the issues discussed today are not partisan but affect who we are and who we want to be as a country.

Civil rights leaders in today’s meeting included:

  • Vanita Gupta, president and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO, Anti-Defamation League
  • Chad Griffin, president, Human Rights Campaign
  • Kristen Clarke, president and executive director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • Adam Fernandez, MALDEF
  • Farhana Khera, president and executive director, Muslim Advocates
  • Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
  • Richard Cohen, president and CEO, Southern Poverty Law Center

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations.

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Today it is the world’s leading organization combating anti-Semitism, exposing hate groups, training law enforcement on hate crimes, developing anti-bias curricula for students, countering cyber-hate and relentlessly pursuing equal rights for all.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work, and in every community.

The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the “law firm of the Latino community”, MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access.

Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization that works on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the country’s first and foremost civil and human rights law firm. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans. Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Alabama with offices in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi, is a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society.