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C-J: Celebrate 50th anniversary of Kentucky Commission on Human Rights

March 15, 2010

In its editorial Friday, the Louisville Courier-Journal invites folks to the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort on Thursday to see Gov. Steve Beshear sign a proclamation honoring the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights.

The commission was created by Gov. Bert Combs during a year that marked other civil rights milestones including the sit-ins at the Woolworth’s in Greensboro, N.C., and the creation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

As the editorial notes –

“It was a historic move that did not come easily to a region long entrenched in institutional discrimination,” said John J. Johnson, the commission’s current executive director. Without doubt, Gov. Combs was audacious, but he wasn’t finished. In 1963, he signed the executive order to prohibit state-licensed restaurants in Kentucky from refusing to serve black customers. Still, several more years would pass before Kentucky’s human rights commission was fully empowered as it now is to enforce laws that are intended to protect people from being discriminated against based on race, national origin, religion, sex, age, family status or disabilities.

This year and the ones following will be full of such 50-year milestones in Kentucky and beyond. We should mark and recognize their significance, but realize there’s still work to be done for civil rights even half a century after these movements began to find their voices.

For those interested in attending Thursday’s  ceremony, it will begin at 2 p.m. EDT in the Capitol.

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