When state Sen. Lester Jackson (D-Savannah) introduced Senate Bill 119, dubbed the “Georgia Civil Rights Act,” earlier this month, it was not common knowledge that Georgia didn’t already have such legislation.
In that spirit, Jackson will be part of a public panel discussion tonight along with representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union, Georgia Equality and the John Marshall School of Law to talk with Georgians about what this bill is and why the state needs it.
The panel will be facilitated by state Rep. Keisha Waites (D-Atlanta), and will feature John Marshall Law professors Anthony Baker and Kathleen Burch, Georgia Equality’s Jeff Graham and attorneys Maluwi Davis and Gerald Griggs of the Georgia NAACP Criminal Justice Committee, said Rob Wood, senior field organizer for Georgia Equality.
The panel originated last year in discussions between Georgia Equality and ACLU.
“Right at the end of the summer we actually held a town hall during Atlanta Black Pride about the need for comprehensive civil rights. There was some really good discussion that came out of it,” Wood said. “We need to continue to talk about these things because Georgia doesn’t have a civil rights law.”
The panel topics will include civil rights history, voting rights and discrimination in education, employment and law enforcement practices, many of which are addressed in SB 119. Andrea Young, the executive director of ACLU Georgia, praised Jackson’s bill when it was introduced.
“This comprehensive civil rights legislation is a powerful testament to the diverse coalition of Georgians who are standing together to oppose discrimination in all of its forms,” she said in a statement. “All Georgians deserve equal protection under the law — no matter who they are, what they look like, how they pray or who they love.”
Georgia is one of a handful of states lacking anti-discrimination laws for housing, employment and public accommodations.
“By the time 2030 gets here, the population in Georgia will look a lot different. Demographically the numbers will have changed. We need to make sure everyone is protected while we move along into a new Georgia,” Wood said.