Birdsong just has to remind all of you out there that June has been a good month for justice for African Americans.
On June 13, 1866, Congress passed the 14th Amendment that extended liberties and rights granted by the Bill of Rights to former slaves. The major provision of the 14th Amendment was to grant citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” thereby granting citizenship to the descendants of Africans brought to America in chains. We truly became African Americans.
On June 16, 1866, the House Joint Resolution proposing the 14th Amendment to the Constitution was submitted to the states. On July 28, 1868, the 14th Amendment was declared, in a certificate of the Secretary of State, ratified by the necessary 28 of the 37 states, and became part of the supreme law of the land.
Ninety-nine years later, in June 1967, Thurgood Marshall, then the U.S. Solicitor General of the U.S., became the first African American justice of the Supreme Court. He served on the Court from 1967 through 1991. Justice Marshall’s brilliant legal reputation was won through his special work on civil rights cases. As a special counsel for the NAACP he argued 32 cases before the Supreme Court, one of which was Brown v. Board of Education. In that 1954 case the Supreme Court declared that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.
Forty one years later, in June 2008, Barack Obama became the first African American to become the presumptive nominee for President of a major political party in the United States.
Progress has been slow…but steady. June has been a good month for racial justice in the United States. Let us all work together to make sure such justice continues.