This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Civil Rights Act. While much has changed since 1964, our nation still has a multitude of uphill social battles in front of us, from eliminating ongoing racism, to finding a way to provide widespread access to quality healthcare, to caring for our aging population.
In a recent issue of America magazine, Boston College School of Law Dean Vincent D. Rougeau penned an article on the legacy and ongoing challenges of the civil rights act. It’s a powerfully personal story of his own family’s journey, where he recounts his grandfather’s life in segregation as a migrant worker who was never assured of receiving his next paycheck. “As someone whose possibilities in life were transformed by the Civil Rights Act, I am deeply indebted to the men and women in the civil rights movement and in the government who had the courage and vision to make it a reality,” he explains.
Yet, rather than resting on his own accomplishments and what it has meant for his family, Dean Rougeau takes advantage of his platform to look ahead into the future, and “welcome an America that will no longer be cast in black and white.” Rougeau writes:
In many ways, the treatment of immigrants is emerging as a new civil rights issue, and it raises a number of concerns around exclusion, membership and participation in a democratic society that characterized the civil rights movement in the mid-20th century. These issues should have particular resonance for Catholics because our social teaching takes a very strong position in support of social inclusion for the poor and the stranger. As Congress devours resources of time and money to accomplish little of lasting value when it comes to immigration, their inaction and indifference should announce an opportunity for the rest of us to act in a way that honors the legacy of the Civil Rights Act. Read America Magazine article > >
At BC Social Work, we share Dean Rougeau’s call to honor the Civil Rights Act by advocating for immigrants living at the margins of our society. In 2012, we established the Immigrant Integration Lab, a research center that seeks to understand the appropriate services and delivery systems that lead to full social, civic, and economic integration of the foreign born in the United States. The center is headed by Associate Professor Westy Egmont. View this video to learn more about the Immigrant Integration Lab at BC Social Work.
In 2012, BC Social Work hosted a conversation between Dean Rougeau and Professor Emerita Elaine Pinderhughes on diversity in the workplace. Watch it on YouTube.
BC Perspectives is an ongoing series highlighting some of the important issues being explored by the Boston College community that reflect the School of Social Work’s commitment to social justice.