In commemoration of the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s 50th anniversary, Bradley will bring a series of events to the Hilltop.
The celebration, sponsored by the women’s studies program, will run throughout this school year.
“The thought came about of celebrating civil rights both past and present, as sort of a year-long theme, with inviting a bunch of speakers and having activities for the students and community,” said Executive Director of the Institute of the Principled Leadership Brad McMillan.
The calendar list of events kicks off on Sept. 17 with renowned speaker Lilly Ledbetter, an advocate for women’s equal pay, and will continue through spring 2014.
“We hope the list continues to grow, and that if there are student groups and organizations that want to add to the theme, we can do so through the website and calendar,” McMillan said.
McMillan said he hopes students and the community will recognize there are many people from Central Illinois that have a profound impact on progressing civil rights in America.
“I hope the students will gain a deeper appreciation of the struggles many have gone through to move civil rights forward in our country,” he said. “We have a rich history that we hope will be better understood.”
Interim Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences Stacey Robertson said that this is the first year this type of celebration is being brought to campus.
“This is going to be such a great year of programming,” she said. “We’ve got almost every unit on campus involved.”
Robertson said the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was probably the most important piece of legislation affecting civil rights in the 20th century and was the culminating success of the civil rights movement.
“I think a lot of students don’t know that history, so we want to remind people of our history, celebrate the success and discuss where we are now,” she said. “We hope that this is the beginning of a trend focusing on civil rights and inclusiveness.”
The programs will benefit students in two ways, Robertson said.
“One, it will inform them and inspire them about our past,” she said. “Fifty years is not a long time. I think it makes people more aware of the long-term effects of slavery, discrimination and how that impacts the entire generation.”
The second way the programs will benefit the students, Robertson said, is becoming aware of civil rights issues, whether it is gender discrimination, sexual harassment or racial discrimination, that are still present today.
“It’s important to understand where we are today and how we can, as citizens committed to equality and justice, make a change, just as an individual,” Robertson said. “You yourself can make a difference.”