Southern Partners Fund Applauds the Nomination of Thomas E. Perez for U.S. Secretary of Labor

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President Obama chooses a life-long, dedicated champion of human and civil rights

Southern Partners Fund (SPF) stands in solidarity with human and civil rights advocates across the country in commending President Obama for his recent nomination of Thomas E. Perez, Assistant United States Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, to be the next U.S. Secretary of Labor.

“Mr. Perez has served his entire career in government and civil service, consistently standing up for communities unjustly neglected due to race, sexual orientation, gender, and economic and immigration status, said SPF Interim Executive Director, Ron White. “Since his appointment as Assistant United States Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division in 2009, Perez has earned the reputation as a vigorous defender and enforcer of human and civil rights regulations. Under his watch the Civil Rights Division has pursued a record number of discrimination and abuse claims, challenged voter identification requirements throughout the South and reached settlements in three of the largest residential fair-lending cases in the history of the Fair Housing Act, against Countrywide, Wells Fargo and Sun Trust.”

SPF’s grantees who are challenging discriminatory practices in public education, such as the school to prison pipeline, racial re-segregation; and those working on issues of voter suppression and immigrant rights rely on aggressive enforcement action from the Civil Rights Division in marginalized communities where a wide variety of these abuses occur. The foundation serves over 200 rural community groups in 12 southeastern states. We work with diverse communities that embody the legacy of struggle, and the future of social change. Our grantee partners are from areas of the South where organizing and community were rooted by and in the Civil Rights Movement and the Latino Farmworkers Movement. The organizations and leadership that we fund live and walk in a historical reality that includes communities from Selma, Alabama to Tupelo, Mississippi, to farm worker communities in Apoka, Florida and Appalachian women in rural West Virginia. These areas of the deep South includes historically underdeveloped regions with citizens, primarily people of color, who have lower incomes, low levels of education and higher disease rates than the rest of the country. It also has a growing population of immigrant workers often exploited and denied their basic constitutional rights.                 

The Justice Department has aggressively moved to tackle these abuses in two recent cases. The Civil Rights Division filed a lawsuit against the city of Meridian, Mississippi, Lauderdale County, Miss; judges of the Lauderdale County Youth Court; and the state of Mississippi for allegedly systematically violating the due process rights of African-American children and children with disabilities. The complaint alleged that the defendants helped to operate a school-to-prison pipeline in which the rights of children in Meridian were repeatedly and routinely violated. As a result, children in Meridian have been systematically incarcerated for allegedly committing minor offenses, including school disciplinary infractions, and are punished disproportionately without due process of law.

The second case involved the filing of a civil rights lawsuit against Terry S. Johnson, in his official capacity as head of the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) in North Carolina. The complaint alleged that ACSO routinely discriminates against and targets Latinos for enforcement action, in violation of their constitutional rights.

“Perez exemplifies the high standard of leadership necessary to advance positive social change in this country, said White. "He is a truly committed individual and an excellent choice to serve as the next U.S. Secretary of Labor.”

Southern Partners Fund is a 501(c) (3) public foundation created to serve grassroots social change organizations throughout the Southeastern U.S. including: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Our Mission is to support rural Southern communities and organizations seeking social, economic, and environmental justice by providing them with financial resources, technical assistance and training, and access to systems of information and power to shift the balance of power in their communities.

Want to learn more or contribute to Southern Partners Fund’s effort to bring equity and prosperity to the South? Visit us:

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Rose Johnson

Rasheedah Ali
Southern Partners Fund
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