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Monday, January 21, 2008

Some words to ponder on MLK Day

Forty-five years ago, "the civil rights movement swirled into Birmingham, a city whose bitter resistance to change made it a battleground." Jack Bass, Unlikely Heroes 201 (1981). Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remarked, "If we can crack Birmingham, I am convinced we can crack the South. Birmingham is a symbol of segregation for the entire South." Id. By blood, toil, and tears, segregation was, of course, cracked in Birmingham, and today the city is led by its fourth black mayor and a majority-black city council. Against this historical backdrop, this appeal from the Northern District of Alabama offers, amid a host of technical issues, an important reminder: despite considerable racial progress, racism persists as an evil to be remedied in our Nation.

Such are the words of the Hon. William H. Pryor Jr. of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Goldsmith v. Bagby Elevator Co. Goldsmith involves appalling allegations of racial harassment, which resulted in a substantial jury verdict affirmed by the 11th Circuit. This Martin Luther King Day is as good a time as any for everyone to stop and reflect on Judge Pryor's words, and ask if you are doing all that you can to combat discrimination of all kinds in your workplace.