New Brunswick – Senate President Steve Sweeney today addressed the “2019 Summit for Civil Rights” in New Brunswick where he welcomed the participants to New Jersey and spoke about the actions taken here that will advance policies to promote justice and equality. The two-day conference held at the Rutgers Department of Labor Studies and Employment Relations drew civil rights leaders, activists, academics and union leaders.
“I am proud and humbled to welcome all of our out-of-state guests to New Jersey for a summit that puts a focus on the continuing effort to strengthen racial and ethnic justice and equality,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “Here in New Jersey we have made important progress in recent years in a number of important areas, including social justice reforms and greater economic opportunities. We have made real progress, but we all know our work is not done.”
Senator Sweeney referred to his legislation requiring independent prosecutors for police-involved fatalities, the landmark bail reforms, the “ban the box” law, aggressive expungement bills, an increased minimum wage, a higher earned income tax credit and support for minority owned businesses. Building on the success of the previously enacted expungement bill, both the cannabis legalization bill and a companion expungement measure will make substantial reforms to criminal justice.
Senator Sweeney said that we were also in the forefront with the historic marriage equality law and a ban on conversion therapy that was strongly endorsed by the LGBTQ community. The new laws requiring “equal pay for equal work”, paid family leave and earned sick leave are also important to diverse communities in New Jersey, especially working families.
“New Jersey is one of the most diverse states in the country and I believe that is a source of strength,” said Senator Sweeney. “Civil rights are basic rights that should be extended equally to each and every member of society, regardless of race, ethnicity or religion. By coming together we can advance a program of social and racial justice and expanded middle class opportunity for all Americans. A multi-racial coalition of people is the most effective way to advance civil rights.”
The Summit for Civil Rights is being presented by The Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity, The Labor Education Action Research Network at Rutgers, The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and Building One America, with support from the Ford Foundation, the United Auto Workers Union and the American Postal Workers Union.
The summit also honored the civil rights contributions of Congressman James E. Clyburn, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.