Good Afternoon. Welcome to the Civil Rights Division’s 2017 Awards Ceremony and 60th Anniversary Celebration. Today we honor the Division’s storied past, its vibrant present, and its glorious future. 2017 is a landmark year for the Civil Rights Division because it marks the 60th Anniversary of our continuing effort to make our country more free, more fair, more open, more just, more equal, and more great. Take a moment to think about what the country was like in 1957, the year the Civil Rights Division was founded. American was a global military and economic superpower. It had progressed a great distance from the Founding toward its promise of liberty and justice for all. But too many barriers to opportunity, to equality, and even to access persisted in our society. Those barriers cut across the most fundamental facets of American life, from education to employment to housing to voting to criminal justice to public accommodations. Those barriers deprived Americans of their basic rights, privileges, and opportunities based on their race, skin color, sex, national origin, religion, and disability.
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