• Jesse White reflects on fight to reach Civil Rights Act

    by  • July 2, 2014 • News

    SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White urged people to take a moment to reflect on and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    Fifty years ago on July 2, this historic measure outlawed discrimination based on race, creed, gender or national origin. The landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited racial segregation in schools, at work and at public facilities, and ended unfair voting registration practices.

    Secretary of State Jesse White

    Secretary of State Jesse White

    White says as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our great nation 238 years ago, we should also remember those heroes who organized, protested and marched so we could live in a society where people, as his former minister Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, ‘will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,’”

    White attended Dr. King’s church while a student at Alabama State College. White noted the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ushered in widespread legal changes for which activists had fought for years.

    It was a monumental step in the direction of racial equality and fairness, White said.

    He recalls being a student at Alabama State College — now Alabama State University — in Montgomery, Ala. In the early 1950s, he experienced some of the inequalities that prompted the civil rights movement.

    He notes that coming from Chicago to Montgomery brought challenges and frustrations due to the racial climate in the south, recalling they were prohibited from drinking at certain water fountains and using certain washrooms, they weren’t allowed to choose which seat on a bus to sit on and were banned from eating at many restaurants.

    White encouraged those who would like to learn more about this important milestone in America’s history to read the feature article on the civil rights movement in the 2013-14 Illinois Blue Book, published by the Secretary of State. The Illinois Blue Book is available online at cyberdriveillinois.com or can be found at local libraries.

    White says as someone who has experienced racism, he knows how deeply it can cut and he never wants anyone else to experience such pain.