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BET CEO, Debra Lee recognizes 50 years since Civil Rights Movement

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During the show, BET’s head-woman-in-charge took a slight break from the entertainment to recognize a pivotal moment in American history — the upcoming 50 year anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement.

On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, freeing all people of color from racial, gender and cultural discrimination that had plagued the country for decades prior due to unfair Jim Crow laws.

Black leaders across the nation such as Fannie Lou Hamer, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X encouraged President Johnson to exercise moral courage by pushing Congress to finally “do the right thing” by minority citizens in this country. According to author, Earl Ofari Hutchinson, when Johnson signed the bill, black leaders had already firmly staked out the moral high ground for a powerful and irresistible civil rights movement. It was classic good versus evil. Many white Americans were sickened by the gory news scenes of baton-battering racist Southern sheriffs, fire hoses, police dogs and Klan violence unleashed against peaceful black protesters. Racial segregation was considered immoral and indefensible, and the civil rights leaders were hailed as martyrs and heroes in the fight for justice.

It was nice to see Lee recognize such an important part of this country’s history. Though the Civil Rights Act was pivotal, there is still much work to be done to equalize racial and economic injustice within this country.

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