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Senator Thompson fighting for civil rights in 2014 legislative session

Roger Caldwell

Roger Caldwell

Senator Thompson fighting for civil rights in 2014 legislative session

By Roger Caldwell

It has been 50 years since the civil rights bill was passed in our country, and many have stopped working for change. Many believe with the inauguration of an African American President, we have reached the pinnacle of the mountaintop, and discrimination has disappeared.

In 50 years there have been monumental changes, and the country has drastically been transformed, but that does not mean the fight is over. On many different levels discrimination and racism is more entrenched, because everyone has a Black or Hispanic friend. Even though, churches and organizations are more segregated, no one in 2014 will admit they made a decision based on race.

When an elected official in 2014 is fighting for the minorities in their community, conservatives say they are using the race card. Many conservatives believe that discrimination and racism does not exist, and they don’t understand what minorities want, and why they are still upset.

But Senator Geraldine Thompson understands why her constituents voted her into office, and she is working and fighting for justice. She was voted into the Florida House of Representatives in 2006, and she won her Senate seat in 2012. Senator Thompson is a teacher, a historian, a breast cancer survivor, a champion for public education, an advocate of the ACA, and a supporter of job creation.

In the 2014 Florida Legislature, both houses are controlled by Republicans, but Senator Thompson has refused to sit on the sidelines and give up. She has put together a list of impressive bills, which will improve the quality of life for diverse segments of the Florida population. Her bills ad-dress issues with women, public education, felons civil rights, and state zero-tolerance laws.

Back in 2009, Senator Thompson was working to restore felons’ civil rights, and in 2014 she has not given up, and is still trying to break the same door down. It is horrific that after felons have completed their time, that Governor Scott and State’s Attorney Pam Bondi have decided that felons must wait 6-10 years to get their civil rights restored. Senator Thompson has filed this law under SB 1222, and the act would also apply retroactively to all persons eligible.

Under SB 220, the senator has filed a bill that would address the fact that various courts have issued different opinions regarding discrimination against pregnant women. With this bill, Senator Thompson would clarify that discrimination against pregnant women is prohibited under Florida law.

“While there are legitimate reasons for school based arrest, there are far too many instances when implicit biases creep into disciplinary decision-making and defer the dreams of black and brown youths for engaging in ordinary and harmless misbehavior,” says Adora Obi Nweze, president of the Florida NAACP. In 2012, there were 1,048 school based arrest nearly doubling the total of Miami-Dade County, whose student body is nearly twice that of Orange.

Senator Thompson has filed SB 1244 and is asking the lawmakers to look at revamping the zero tolerance laws. Many administrators have taken the lazy way to solve disciplinary issues by calling the police. On a national level school based arrest is impacting 70 percent of Black and brown students and in Florida it is impacting 60 percent.

Senator Thompson is working hard to make a difference in her district, and she needs our support. The fight for civil rights must be protected everyday, and Senator Thompson is not giving up, and we need more leaders to follow in her footsteps.

 

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