Blog | Center for Civil Rights

Remembering Harry Briggs Jr. and Continuing His Legacy

Harry Briggs Jr. (far right) with classmates. ©NAACP LDF.
Harry Briggs Jr. (far right) with classmates. ©NAACP LDF.

On August 9, 2016, Harry Briggs Jr. passed away at his home in the Bronx, New York. In 1947, at the age of 12, Briggs Jr. was the first to sign a petition in Clarendon County, South Carolina demanding equal access in education for black students. The court case that followed that petition, Briggs v. Elliot, was one of five consolidated cases in Brown v. Board of Education. Although Brown became the recognizable name in ruling “separate but equal” education unconstitutional, Briggs was the first of the five cases to challenge racial segregation, and its plaintiffs suffered mightily for it.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Mon. August 22, 2016 2:16 PM
Categories: Education, Segregation

Eugenics Victims File Additional Brief in Appeal to NC Supreme Court

On August 11, 2016, three heirs of individuals forcibly sterilized under North Carolina’s forty-year Eugenics program filed their appellees’ brief to the North Carolina Supreme Court. In February, the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to hear the heirs’ constitutional challenge to the Eugenics Compensation Act’s requirement that sterilization victims be alive on June 30, 2013 to be eligible for compensation.

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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Fri. August 12, 2016 4:23 PM
Categories: Race Discrimination, Sterilization

Fourth Circuit Ruling Supports Challenge to Parole System for Juvenile Offenders

In an important decision protecting the constitutional rights of juvenile offenders, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the State’s appeal in Hayden v. Butler. In September 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina declared the State’s parole process for juvenile offenders unconstitutional, and ordered the State to reform the system. The State appealed that decision, and the Center for Civil Rights and the UNC Youth Justice Clinic filed an amicus brief in support of Shaun Hayden, who is represented by North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services.
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Posted by Mark Dorosin on Tue. August 2, 2016 12:03 PM
Categories: Criminal Justice

4th Circuit Strikes Down North Carolina's Voter ID Law

Today the U.S Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed decisions of the North Carolina Federal District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina in consolidated cases challenging sweeping restrictions on voting rights enacted by the North Carolina legislature. We are heartened by the Appellate Court’s decision today, which, taken with a similar decision by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals which covers Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, constitutes a significant turn against racial discrimination in electoral politics.
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Posted by Theodore M. Shaw (Ted) on Fri. July 29, 2016 2:43 PM
Categories: Amicus Curiae, Race Discrimination, Voting Rights

Center Submits Comments to EPA Regarding "Environmental Justice 2020 Action Agenda"

The Center, joined by several of its clients and colleagues in the struggle for environmental justice, submitted these comments yesterday to the EPA regarding the agency's "Environmental Justice 2020 Action Agenda."

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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Fri. July 29, 2016 10:13 AM
Categories: Environmental Justice

Halifax County School Adequacy Appeal Briefing Completed; Oral Argument to be Scheduled

On Monday, July 18, 2016, the Center for Civil Rights filed its reply brief to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in Silver v. Halifax County Board of Commissioners, reasserting its fundamental argument that a board of county commissioners—like any government actor or agency—has a constitutional obligation to ensure schoolchildren have the opportunity to secure a sound basic education.

The case was filed by the Coalition for Education and Economic Security (CEES), the Halifax County Branch of the NAACP, and three parents and guardians of schoolchildren in Halifax. The plaintiffs assert that the county commissioners’ inequitable and inefficient allocation of education resources among, and maintenance of, three racially segregated and low performing school districts in the county violates the right of students to receive a sound basic education as guaranteed by the North Carolina Constitution (and affirmed by the North Carolina Supreme Court in the Leandro cases). Incredibly, the commissioners insist that while they admittedly have constitutional and statutory obligations to provide critical educational resources, those obligations have no relation to or bearing upon the right to or provision of a constitutionally-complaint education in Halifax County.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Wed. July 20, 2016 4:22 PM
Categories: Education, Halifax County, Leandro, Segregation

Eugenics Victims File Brief in Appeal to NC Supreme Court

On July 11, 2016, three heirs of individuals forcibly sterilized under North Carolina’s forty-year eugenics program filed a brief in their appeal to the North Carolina Supreme Court, continuing their effort to obtain restitution for the injustices their families suffered at the hands of the State Eugenics Board.

These family members of the victims of the state’s forced sterilization program have been denied restitution because of the Eugenics Compensation Act’s so-called “living victim threshold,” which requires that sterilization victims be alive on June 30, 2013 to be eligible for compensation. In February, the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to hear the appellants’ constitutional challenge to the living victim threshold. Instead, the court held that the appellants must begin the process all over again and present their constitutional claim to a three-judge panel convened in Wake County Superior Court.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Tue. July 19, 2016 4:00 PM
Categories: Race Discrimination, Sterilization

Center Files Amicus Brief in North Carolina Voting Rights Case

The CenterThis week the Center for Civil Rights filed an amicus curiae brief in the in the ongoing legal challenge to HB 589, the State’s 2013 voting law that imposed voter id requirements, cut early voting, and eliminated same-day registration, out of precinct ballots, and pre-registration of 16 and 17 year olds.


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Posted by Mark Dorosin on Fri. May 27, 2016 2:34 PM
Categories: Race Discrimination, Segregation, Voting Rights

Plaintiffs File Brief to NC Court of Appeals in Halifax County Leandro Litigation

On Wednesday, May 4, the Coalition for Education and Economic Security (CEES), the Halifax County Branch of the NAACP, and three parents and guardians of schoolchildren filed their brief to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in Silver v. Halifax County Board of Commissioners. The Plaintiffs brought suit against the County last August, seeking to vindicate the constitutional right of all Halifax County schoolchildren to the opportunity for a sound basic education established under the Leandro decision. The Plaintiffs’ appeal comes after the trial court dismissed the lawsuit in early February, holding that the County has no constitutional obligations under Leandro.

In their brief to the Court of Appeals, CEES and the NAACP argue they must be afforded the opportunity to present evidence at trial and prove that the County’s maintenance of its three racially segregated school districts blocks all students’ opportunity to receive a Leandro-compliant education. Leandro II provides that local governments must allocate resources in a manner that provides children the opportunity for a sound basic education.

Legal Aid of North Carolina and the Youth Justice Project of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, on behalf of Public Schools First NC, filed an amicus brief in support of the Appellants’ Leandro claim. The amicus brief highlights Legal Aid of North Carolina’s work with students in Halifax County, and the lack of educational opportunity these students face because of the misallocation of educational resources among the county’s three school districts. Amici note that at-risk students in Halifax’s racially isolated districts suffer inadequate educational programs, poor academic outcomes, and disproportionately high rates of student discipline.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Fri. May 6, 2016 12:20 PM
Categories: Education, Halifax County, Leandro, Segregation

CCDC and NAACP File Accreditation Complaint, as Duplin County Schools Move Forward With Facilities Plan

On April 15, the Concerned Citizens of Duplin County (CCDC) and the Duplin County Branch of the North Carolina NAACP filed an accreditation complaint against the Duplin County Board of Education.  The complaint alleges the Board has failed to comply with a number of standards set by AdvancED, a school accrediting agency that accredited Duplin County Schools in September 2014.

The CCDC and NAACP filed the complaint less than two weeks after the Duplin County Board of Education voted to begin construction to retrofit existing school facilities, turning them into K-8 schools as part of a $65 million dollar facilities plan.  In December 2014, the CCDC filed a Title VI complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, alleging the Board’s facilities plan illegally discriminates against non-white students by denying them access to quality facilities and concentrating them in racially segregated schools.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Mon. April 18, 2016 4:47 PM
Categories: Education, Segregation
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