Save the UNC Center for Civil Rights
1. Attend a UNC Board of Governors meeting on Friday, September 8, 2017. More details forthcoming.
2. Email the UNC Board of Governors, [email protected], and the UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor, [email protected], in support of the Center.
3. Write a Letter to the Editor by emailing [email protected] or [email protected] (200 words).
Since 2001, the UNC Center for Civil Rights (CCR) has been committed to the advancement of civil rights and social justice in the American South through its work in the areas of education, fair housing, environmental justice, and community inclusion.
The Rachel Carson Council has been publishing and educating the public about the environmental health dangers of industrial hog and chicken production, especially in the state of North Carolina. The harm from hog waste, for instance, affects water and air quality, and methane from waste also exacerbates global climate change. But hog waste also affects both nearby residents and workers inside these industrial operations. Those harmed by hog operations, as shown by my colleague and friend, the late Dr. Steve Wing, Professor of Epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Public Health, are disproportionately low-income communities of color.
Thus, lawsuits have been brought by a number of residents, organizations, and the UNC Center for Civil Rights, to redress these harms, and, in one case, as a civil rights violation of those concerned. As a result, the North Carolina General Assembly has been working to cut the funding of the UNC Center for Civil Rights and/or to prevent it from joining in any litigation.
The UNC Board of Governor’s proposal to prohibit the CCR from engaging in any advocacy or direct representation on behalf of individuals, families or communities engaged in the struggle for equal justice is disturbing. Not only would 200 Centers and Institutes be directly impacted, but it sets a dangerous precedent; such a proposal potentially undermines the ability of UNC to generate research and provide experiential learning opportunities that can inform policy or interventions. The Educational Policy Committee of the Board of Governors should vote against this proposal, or any new version of it, that would stop the CCR’s ability to conduct litigation and legal advocacy, which will result in negative effects for the most marginalized North Carolinians.
In the news:
Debate over UNC Civil Rights Center focuses on advocacy and academic freedom – Inside Higher Education, July 28, 2017
Could proposed litigation ban put UNC’s accreditation at risk? – News and Observer, May 23, 2017
UNC board to decide this summer on whether civil rights center will have litigation ban – News and Observer, May 18, 2017
UNC’s civil rights center faces conservative ire – Charlotte Observer, April 23, 2017
Letter: We Must Support the Center for Civil Rights – Daily Tar Heel, March 29, 2017
Silencing advocacy that irritates state leaders – Inside Higher Education, February 28, 2017