Xenophobia and a desire to find a scapegoat for these hard economic times will spur more anti-immigrant legislation. And there’s no shortage of lawmakers unwilling to hear other viewpoints. But there are still people unwilling to allow their state to be governed by fear.
Earlier this year, high school students in Montgomery County, Md., received flyers at school saying that being gay is a choice and that people can change their sexual orientation. The flyer’s message is a popular and harmful piece of propaganda about LGBT people – the claim that gay people can change their sexual orientation through what is commonly known as “ex-gay” or “conversion” therapy. It’s a notion that has been rejected or highly criticized by every mainstream American medical and mental health professional association.
There’s no shortage of tragic stories about the dangers of holding children and teens in adult jails. The Southern Poverty Law Center recently filed a lawsuit in Florida that described horrendous abuse at the Polk County Jail – an adult jail where children as young as 8 years old can be detained.
I was in court with Barbara Anderson Young this week when three of the white teens who beat, ran over and killed her brother last June in a Mississippi parking lot pleaded guilty to murder and hate crimes. Those three now face life sentences in prison.
On April 25, 1963, my father, Robert F. Kennedy, then the U.S. attorney general, came to Alabama to ask Gov. George Wallace to stop discriminating against black people. That morning, Wallace raised the Confederate battle flag over the Capitol, where he and my father would meet. His answer would be "no."
George Zimmerman appears to have concluded that young Trayvon Martin was "suspicious" based on nothing more than his race and the fact that Trayvon was walking in Zimmerman's neighborhood. Sadly, such assumptions are made about black youth every day. And they play out in a million disastrous ways.
Marchers from across the country came to Montgomery, Ala., recently to rally at the state Capitol. It was the culmination of a march that began in Selma days earlier, retracing the steps of the historic 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march.
Every day, SPLC attorneys see how school districts are cutting short the futures of countless students through harsh, “zero-tolerance” policies. Now, a new U.S. Department of Education (DOE) study reveals what we have known for some time.
In 2011, the Florida legislature passed a law that set juvenile justice back 40 years. The law, known as SB 2112, allows sheriffs to house young people in adult jails without the protections developed over the years for children in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice.
With a new year upon us, many state legislatures across the country will be convening. Some may attempt to follow in the steps of Alabama by passing harsh, anti-immigrant legislation. Before they do, they should remember Alabama.