Last summer, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill to reduce the number of district-based seats on the Pitt County School Board from 12 to 6, and to add a new at-large seat. Because of its long history of race discrimination in voting, Pitt County is one of 40 counties in the state subject to Section Five of the Voting Rights Act. Section 5 requires covered jurisdictions receive preclearance from the U.S. Department of Justice of any proposed voting changes, to ensure that minority voting rights are not harmed by the change.
On April 30, 2012, the Justice Department rejected Pitt County Schools' preclearance submission, specially citing the retrogressive impact and discriminatory effect of the voting changes.
Posted by Mark Dorosin on Fri. May 18, 2012 4:42 PM
Categories: Community Inclusion, Pitt County, Voting Rights
Peter with NC NAACP President Rev. William Barber on the NC Poverty Tour
I became a lawyer to help individuals as a public defender
and had little hope that lawyering could produce significant systemic change.
During law school, I interned at both a public defender office and at the UNC
Center for Civil Rights. Although I found my criminal work rewarding, I was captivated
by the effectiveness of the Center’s approach to challenging entrenched
systemic racism, the legacy of de jure segregation that is the greatest
obstacle to progress in the U.S. South.
Posted by Peter Hull Gilbert on Mon. May 14, 2012 12:24 PM
Categories: Community Inclusion, Law Students, Professional Development
ROCCA clients and attorneys in Brunswick County after the March 2012 hearing
At the end of March, and after four days of hearings since
October, 2011, Brunswick County’s Planning Board denied Operation Services’
application for a Special Exception Permit to construct a landfill near Supply,
NC, in the historic African American community of Royal Oak. The County spent $266,000 on legal services
in defense of the permit, which, according to County Manager Marty Lawing, was
necessary due to opposition to the permit.
The UNC Center for Civil Rights represented the opposition, a
community group called the Royal Oak Concerned Citizens Association (ROCCA).
“We are looking forward to an
end to the trucks, the dust, the noise and the negative stigma of living next
to the landfill,” said ROCCA president Lewis Dozier.
Posted by Elizabeth M. Haddix on Fri. May 11, 2012 11:22 AM
Categories: Brunswick County, Community Inclusion, Environmental Justice, Race Discrimination
and concerned citizens, Center Attorneys, and UNC Law Students outside
the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals after January 2012 oral arguments in
Everett v. Pitt County Schools
On May 7, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a
published opinion in Everett et al. v.
Pitt County Board of Education affirming the efforts of African American parents
and community members to stop Pitt County Schools from implementing its 2011-12
student reassignment. The UNC Center for
Civil Rights represents the Pitt Coalition for Educating Black Children and several
individual parents of children attending Pitt County Schools.
“This is a great victory
for the people,” said Mark Dorosin, Managing Attorney at the Center. “The court
affirmed what decades of desegregation law, from Brown vs. Board of Ed. to the present, require: that a school
district which remains under a desegregation order has an affirmative duty to
eliminate the vestiges of racial discrimination, and until the court rules that
the district has fulfilled that duty, current racial disparities are presumed
to be the result of the past unconstitutional conduct.”
Posted by Mark Dorosin on Mon. May 7, 2012 5:19 PM
Categories: Education, Law Students, Pitt County, Race Discrimination, Segregation
North Carolina confronts an historic milestone on May 8 with the proposed change to our state constitution: historic, because we have typically amended our constitution to expand and protect, not take away rights. Except when it comes to marriage, and thus the milestone: from 1865 until 1967, Article XIV, Section 8 of our state constitution “forever” prohibited “[a]ll marriages between a white person and a Negro.” It took the courageous love between Richard and Mildred Loving and a United States Supreme Court decision in 1967 to invalidate that law. In Loving v. Virginia, the Court noted that “[t]here is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination which justifies this classification,” and ruled such statutes in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Court’s core holding bears repeating as North Carolina voters head to the polls on May 8:
Marriage is “one of the basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival....To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law.
Posted by Mark Dorosin on Sat. May 5, 2012 8:04 PM
Law students and faculty at the University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill, along with community volunteers, will staff the North Carolina Election
Protection hotline, a toll-free, nonpartisan resource to answer voter questions
during the primary election on Tuesday,
May 8. Election Protection is a nationwide voter advocacy and education
coalition of more than 100 local, state and national partners, and is coordinated
by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Voters anywhere in the state can call 1.866.OUR.VOTE
(866.687.8683) or 1.888.VE.Y.VOTA (888.839.8682)
between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., the hours polls are open in North Carolina,
with questions about their rights and the voting process. Assistance will be
available in English and Spanish.
Posted by Elizabeth M. Haddix on Wed. May 2, 2012 4:22 PM
Categories: Law Students, Pro Bono, Voting Rights