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TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division on Civil Rights (DCR) announced today that, starting tomorrow — Wednesday, April 7— the Division will celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) and DCR itself by hosting a series of virtual events exploring the past, present and future of civil rights in New Jersey and across the nation.
Entitled “Stop the Hate,” DCR’s month-long series will encourage public participation in a continuing, interactive process that will both recognize and celebrate New Jersey’s landmark civil rights legislation – the LAD – and provide an opportunity for attendees to help chart a future course for strengthening civil rights, advancing equity, and combating bias.
At least one “Stop the Hate” series event will take place each Wednesday throughout April, and will focus on such vital issues as the future of the LAD and civil rights in New Jersey, combating discrimination and harassment, addressing racism, healthcare equity, fair housing, reducing bias through education and youth engagement, and other topics.
The events will feature guest speakers, panel discussions, tributes to New Jersey’s civil rights heroes, exhibits, and opportunities for interaction. The final session will honor the winners of a DCR-sponsored “Stand Up to Hate” student art, hashtag, slogan and video competition.
The first event in the series — honoring Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, herself a former investigator at DCR, as a civil rights trailblazer — is scheduled for tomorrow from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The event will feature a welcome from Governor Phil Murphy, as well as remarks by Attorney General Grewal, DCR Director Rachel Wainer Apter, Congresswoman Watson Coleman, and NJ Civil Rights Commissioner/NAACP New Jersey State Conference President Richard T. Smith.
“By enacting the LAD, New Jersey became – and has remained – a national leader in the area of civil rights,” said Attorney General Grewal. “And DCR has done an excellent job of fighting for justice on behalf of victims of discrimination and shining a light on important civil rights issues.
But the work is never really done. That’s why this month’s reflection on the past, present, and future of civil rights in New Jersey is so important, and could not come at a more vital time in our history.”
“More than seventy-five years ago, New Jersey became the first state in the country with a comprehensive civil rights law,” said Director Wainer Apter. “Since then, the Law Against Discrimination and Division on Civil Rights have helped transform New Jersey and touched the lives of millions of New Jersey residents, moving all of us closer to a time when every person can determine the course of their own lives without discrimination or prejudice. We are excited to celebrate New Jersey’s long and storied civil rights history, and talk honestly about the hard work that remains to achieve equity, in this month’s important series.”
Governor Walter Edge signed the New Jersey LAD into law on April 16, 1945. The LAD created the Division Against Discrimination, now known as the Division on Civil Rights.
Dr. James O. Hill, who served as State Assemblyman for Newark, sponsored the law to prevent discrimination on account of race, creed, color, and national origin or ancestry in employment.
The LAD was the nation’s very first state civil rights statute to go into effect, and its protections have expanded steadily since then. Today, the LAD is one of the most comprehensive anti-discrimination laws in the country, prohibiting discrimination and harassment based on actual or perceived race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, and other protected characteristics in employment, housing, and places open to the public, including businesses, restaurants, schools, summer camps, medical providers, government offices and agencies.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, plans to mark the anniversary of the law earlier in its seventy-fifth year were postponed until now.
Below are Zoom Registration Links for DCR’s upcoming 75th Anniversary “Stop the Hate” Event Series:
- Civil Rights Trailblazer Award: Honoring Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman
Wed., April 7, 2021, 1-2pm:
- The Future of the LAD and NJ Civil Rights Panel
Wed., April 14, 2021, 1-2:30pm
- Health Equity Panel: Racism’s Impact on Public Health
Wed., April 21, 2021, 2-4pm
- Current Challenges in Fair Housing Panel
Wed., April 28, 2021, 12:30-1:30pm
- An Anti-Bias Vision for the Next Generation: Youth Conversation and Art Competition Exhibit Reveal and Awards Ceremony
Wed., April 28 6:30-8pm
The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR) is the state agency charged with enforcing New Jersey’s civil rights laws, including the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) and the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA). The mission of DCR is to protect the people of New Jersey from discrimination and bias-based harassment in employment, housing, and public accommodations. For additional information about DCR, the LAD and Family Leave Act, visit DCR’s website.