Introducing the Center for Civil Rights Blog
It is important to us to keep our clients, colleagues, supporters and friends updated of our work, sharing successes and inviting comments on how to move the cause forward. In the past, we've accomplished this through quarterly newsletters. We now invite you to keep track of our work through our new blog. You can also keep up with us on Twitter @UNCCivilRights.
We'll be posting regular updates of our Community Inclusion and Education work, as well as our involvement in broader civil rights initiatives across the state and the nation. You can use the RSS feed (orange icon in top right corner) to set up a subscription through your Google Reader or any other blog update service.
Also, for folks in North Carolina, don't forget to sign up for our upcoming CLE, The People's Lawyer: A Course and Case Study in Community-Based Lawyering, for two ethics credits and one general credit.
Finally, as you all know, funding to support our work is critical. Although the Center is an integral part of the law school's education, research and service mission, all of pour program expenses and salary cost must be raised through grants and donations. As we continue to seek new grant and foundation opportunities, we are also hoping that individuals and organization that share our vision of civil rights and social justice can help us continue this work. Every dollar contributed goes directly to the work and mission of the Center. If you are interested in learning more about how you can help support the Center, please contact me at 919.843.7896 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also make a secure online donation. To ensure that you gift is directed to the Center for Civil Rights, please designate the fund by using the drop down menu to select "Other", then click "search funds" and type in "civil rights." Our general operating budget is the first account listed, "Civil Rights Current Use (2741)".
As always, thank you for your continuing support for the Center and for social justice.
Recent Blog Posts
Center's upcoming Ethics CLE on Community-Based Lawyering especially relevant in light of Occupy movements; Program also examines the continuing challenges of school segregation (Nov. 11, 2011)
Legal representation of community groups presents unique ethical questions, especially when those groups are not legally incorporated. The rules of professional conduct generally envision a lawyer's duties to an individual client within the bounds of a formal lawyer-client relationship. Community lawyering often presents challenges that differ from this more traditional pattern. The Center for Civil Rights will address these ethical questions in an upcoming ethics CLE presented by the UNC Center for Civil Rights.
On December 1, the Center for Civil Rights will present: The People's Lawyer: A Course and Case Study in Community-Based Lawyering.
In addition to the ethics portion, the CLE also includes a case study of the Center's community based advocacy to combat school resegregation in North Carolina. The Center will present its work with community groups in Halifax County who are working together to address the continuing challenges of inter-district segregation and educational improvement. The CLE will examine law and policy associated with public school segregation and education quality in North Carolina, and will examine litigation and non-litigation methods of addressing the issues.
Don't Dump On Us – Brunswick County Landfill Sited in Historic Black Royal Oak Community (Nov. 7, 2011)
On October 10, attorneys from the UNC Center for Civil Rights represented the Royal Oak community in Brunswick County in a quasi-judicial hearing in front of the county planning board over whether they will permit a new landfill in this historic black community. Royal Oak , one of only a few majority black communities in this 82% white county, is already burdened with the county's only open landfill, its waste transfer station, sewage treatment facility, animal shelter, and numerous sand mines (privately owned but permitted by the county). In addition, the county has denied water and sewer service to the community, even though they installed pipes within a few hundred feet of residents to serve the animal shelter and sewage treatment plant. The Center for Civil Rights, along with the NC Fair Housing Project and the law firm of K&L Gates, currently represents the community in a separate lawsuit alleging that the placement of environmental hazards and the denial of water and sewer service is illegal racial discrimination and violates the North Carolina Fair Housing Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the NC Constitution. The lawsuit also alleges the county violated zoning laws in rezoning the properties to allow the new landfill.
Addressing the Challenges of Heirs' Property: Fall Break 2011 Wills Trip (Nov. 4, 2011)
The Center for Civil Rights, in collaboration with the UNC Law Schools Pro Bono Program and Legal Aid of North Carolina, helped coordinate and lead the sixth pro bono Wills Project. The project provides intensive practical skills training for law students, and then takes them into under-resourced communities across the state to help prepare wills, powers of attorney and living wills for Legal Aid eligible clients. In October, 22 law students, working under the supervision of Center staff, Legal Aid and volunteer private lawyers, staffed wills clinics in Chatham and Moore County, and served 29 clients and drafted and executed 76 advanced directives.
The Center's interest in the Wills Project, which it helped initiate in 2009, is twofold: to prospectively address the challenges that heirs' property presents in the excluded communities with which we work; and to help engage and train the next generation of civil rights lawyers.
"This Gathering is Illegal" - CCR Joins Press Conference and Rally to Protest Carrboro's Anti-Lingering Ordinance (Oct. 25, 2011)
Center Attorneys joined the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, the Human Rights Center of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, and other concerned citizens on the intersection of Jones Ferry and Davie road, where Town Code Section 5-20 makes it illegal to stand after 11:00 a.m.
Center Attorney Elizabeth Haddix addressed the crowd in English and Spanish, calling the ordinance a violation of both the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution. Haddix said, "As others have already discussed, this ordinance violates the First Amendment. But it also has a overt and intentional racially discriminatory impact. The ordinance clearly targets the brown and black men who regularly meet here. That the ordinance language is racially neutral is no defense to its discriminatory impacts or its endorsement of negative racial stereotypes."
The State of Education in Halifax County - A Five-Month Update (Oct. 22, 2011)
The Center began working in Halifax County in 2008 on a range of community inclusion issues. Lincoln Heights, an excluded community on the outskirts of the City of Roanoke Rapids, worked with the Center to stop the City from locating a solid waste transfer station in their neighborhood, which has been the site of several previous municipal waste facilities. The community's engagement and advocacy also helped bring public attention to other exclusion based impacts issues affecting Lincoln Heights, including denial of access to municipal services and electoral power in local government.
As we continued to work with communities across the county on a range of issues, one theme consistently emerged among residents throughout Halifax County: "Something is very wrong with the schools in this county." Halifax remains one the few counties in the state that has three separate schools districts; two almost 100% African-American, the other over 70% white. The Center spent much of last year researching the history of districts in the county, collecting data on the districts' current student achievement and educational resources, and analyzing school desegregation and education finance lawsuits that have focused on Halifax over the last forty years.