Civil Rights have been a major focus of life in the United States since its inception. The founding fathers of this country believed that all men and women are created equal, and deserve unalienable rights such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964 as a landmark document that made racial segregation illegal, and still today in 2015 Civil Rights in our country is still a conversation worth having.
Cynthia Skrzycki, a senior lecturer in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of English who organizes the annual panel discussion in Pitt’s University Honors College, said, “Civil Rights continues to dominate public debate today. In light of recent events in Ferguson, Mo, and elsewhere, as well as changes to the Voting Act, the nation continues to grapple with questions of fairness and justice concerning race.”
For 2015, the University of Pittsburgh’s Honors College presented a panel presentation entitled, A Half-Century of Struggle and Success: A Civil Rights Retrospective. The panel discussion featured, former President of the National Urban League Vernon E. Jordan Jr.; former Field Secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Dorie A. Ladner; Dean of Pitt’s School of Social Work and Director of the Center on Race and Social Problems University of Pittsburgh, Larry E. Davis; and Professor of Law and History and Distinguished Faculty Scholar in Pitt’s School of Law, David J. Garrow.
The event was held March 2, in the Alumni Hall, 7th Floor Auditorium on The University of Pittsburgh’s campus. A University Honors College sponsored event.
The event was open to Pitt students as well as the general public. About 300 people attended. The panel discussion circulated around its featured four noted figures. Two 1960s civil rights activists and two scholars speaking on the topic of the American Civil Rights Movement. All four panelists shared their experiences during that period, as well as how that era impacted the course of American history.
Two panel members, Jordan and Ladner were active participants in the civil rights movement. During the event they were able to expound on how much progress has been made in the last 50 years, and what has yet to be done concerning race relations.
Members of the audience were given an opportunity to engage with the panelists, and ask questions during the Q&A session at the end of the event.
“We wanted the audience to walk away with a greater appreciation for the civil rights movement as a whole as well as those who fought and struggled for many of the freedoms that African Americans have now,“ Skrzycki said.
This event was a continuation of an annual series. The University Honors College sponsors annual panel discussions on historic events and moments in American history.
“These four distinctive voices are coming together at the University of Pittsburgh to explore issues of race, equality, and politics that were hot-button issues in the 1960s and are still high on the nation’s agenda today,” said Skrzycki. “This is an opportunity for Pitt students and the city of Pittsburgh to hear the firsthand experiences of those who were on the front lines of our nation’s fight for racial equality and Social justice.”
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