A recent Pew Research Center survey reports that A majority of Blacks have experienced discrimination. A discussion with Wade Henderson, President and C.E.O. of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, on the state of civil rights in the U.S. today, including progress made, and work still to be done. Part 1 of a discussion with Wade Henderson, President & CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
See a partial transcript of this interview below:
Traynham: A recent Pew Research Center survey report said a majority of blacks say they have experienced discrimination or been treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity. Additionally, about 6 in 10 Americans say more changes are needed to achieve racial equality. Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Comcast Newsmakers.” I´m Robert Traynham. Joining me is Wade Henderson, the President and C.E.O. of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. He joins me to discuss the state of civil rights in the United States. Wade, welcome to the program. It is always good to see you.
Henderson: Thanks, Robert. I´m honored to be here.
Traynham: Let´s talk for a few moments about the state of civil rights in general in this country. You heard what I said a few moments ago. There is still a segment of the population, people of color, that believe that based on their own experiences with racism or being prejudiced against that we still have a long way to go.
Henderson: You know, Robert, I´m proud to be an American. I´m really proud of the progress we’ve made as a nation, but I also recognize that our nation is a work in progress, that we´re struggling to achieve the equality and fact that every American is entitled to regardless of their race or their ethnicity, their gender, or their sexual orientation or their disability status, and the struggle that we have as a nation is how do we move to achieve the progress that we all want? That´s the question of today.
Traynham: Wade, I look at this almost like a three-pillared stool. The first pillar is economic parity, the second one is educational parity, and the third one is social parity, in many ways. And if you agree with that, how do we tackle some of the systemic barriers, if you will, to economic justice, racial justice, and social justice?
Henderson: Well, all three of your points are absolutely valid and on point. We have yet to achieve the kind of economic viability and equality that we need. In fact, we don´t have the kind of quality education that every student should be entitled to receive, and certainly from a social basis and a political basis, we have yet to accomplish the goal of equality. But we also know that as a nation, we have accomplished nothing without struggle. We have to recognize that the rights that we enjoy today, that we celebrate would not have happened without the blood, sweat, and tears of many Americans devoted to accomplishing equality, and that´s the struggle that´s before us today.
Traynham: Well, you just answered my next question, and that is do we have to experience a little bit more of struggle in order to achieve some success 5, 10, 15 years from now?
Henderson: There´s no question about it. First of all, in America, if you don´t vote, you don´t count. Voting is the language of democracy, and so we must express and be heard, and we’ve seen that repeatedly, both in elections and in the aftermath of elections. Secondly, the kind of equality in education is really the number-one challenge that we face as a nation because education is the gateway to opportunity, and without it, we won´t accomplish the equality that we seek. On a social and economic level, without the investment of government in trying to overcome systemic barriers to equality, we won´t be able to get there. So, government is a friend of equality, and without it, we won´t be able to have the progress that all Americans would like to see.
Traynham: Wade, when you take a look at your life, every single chapter has been about raising the bar and trying to make sure that people that look like you and I, but also women, LGBT — going down the list — have the rights