• CPS - Leadership Conference

    History of the Leadership Conference 

    Equality and justice for all people in the United States of America did not happen overnight. The perseverance of the civil rights movement and the leadership and conviction of activists like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks raised the voices of millions who were living in a world filled with racial inequality. Solidifying the work of the movement and these activists has been led by a coalition of 200 national organizations known as the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

    The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights engages in legislative advocacy and coordinates national lobbying efforts in support of equality and social justice. Founded in 1950 by A. Philip Randolph, head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Roy Wilkins of the NAACP, and Arnold Aronson, a leader of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, the coalition sought to win the struggle for civil rights by joining the forces of many organizations.

    The coalition helped transform this nation by coordinating national lobbying efforts for every major civil rights law since 1957 and winning the passage of several laws that advanced equality. The Leadership Conference helped outlaw discrimination in America by helping pass such notable legislation as:

    • The Civil Rights Act of 1957
    • The Civil Rights Act of 1960
    • The Civil Rights Act of 1964
    • The Voting Rights Act of 1965
    • The Fair Housing Act of 1968

    In 1968, the Leadership Conference created the Leadership Conference Education Fund to serve research efforts that empower advocates around the country to push for change and legislation to improve or maintain equality.

    The Leadership Conference Today 

    Today the coalition consists of 200 organizations and continues to ensure equal opportunity for all, protect civil rights, help ensure civil liberties worker protections, and promote civic engagement. The organization also works to support communities and families and to help reform the nation’s criminal justice system.

    Recent campaigns by the Leadership Conference led to the creation of new legislation. The coalition worked with other organizations in 2010 to ensure that the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act protected consumers from predatory lending practices.

    In 2009, the coalition led campaigns to enact the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act which extended protection to victims of hate crimes based on their sexual orientation or gender in addition to race, color, religion, or national origin. The coalition also led a campaign in support of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 that called for removing limitations on when workers could challenge pay discrimination in court.

    A variety of organizations comprise the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights. Many organizations in the coalition are dedicated to supporting civil and human rights, the disabled, labor rights, or issues that protect civil and human rights.

    Getting Involved and Education  

    Whether one is a student of public service or interested in civil rights and diversity, it’s important to get acquainted with organizations that lead the way in civil rights reform and legislation. Supporting communities and serving society involves education and understanding how organizations help transform movements or causes into laws that provide protection to all.

    To commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Center for Public Service selected the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights because of its dedication to driving change and helping improve equality. Anyone interested in more information about the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights can visit www.civilrights.org where many resources and publications are available. Undergraduate students interested in internships who live in the Washington, DC, area can visit the Internships section on their website for information on opportunities that may be available.  

    Kaplan University’s College of Public Service also offers courses and programs that seek to serve communities and drive change. We encourage those interested in pursuing careers in public service or public administration to visit our College of Public Service for information on our courses and programs. 


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