David B. Grinberg

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Independence Day Message: Freedom Begets Equal Opportunity

“...We have come now to a time of testing. We must
not fail. Let us close the springs of racial poison. Let
us pray for wise and understanding hearts. Let us

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*® President Lyndon B. Johnsan.
July 2, 1964

Happy Birthday America! 馃嚭馃嚫馃挜馃挜

Call it coincidence, but did you know that the most sweeping civil rights law in USA history was enacted just two days prior to Independence Day on July 2, 1964.

This uncanny timing is somewhat ironic because freedom and independence beget equal opportunity per "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence.

Thus, as the USA celebrates Independence Day this year, let's take some time to think about the significance of President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the groundbreaking Civil Rights Act of 1964 (CRA) 53 years ago (as pictured below in the Oval Office of the White House).

The CRA opened the doors of opportunity in the workplace to nearly every place in society for those shut out for so long -- that being, minorities and women. This raises an important question on the Fourth of July:

How can any U.S. citizen achieve "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" without equal opportunities?

To paraphrase the Founding Fathers, the answer should be "self-evident."

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(ye) The time is
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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It appears to me that independence and equal opportunity go hand-in-hand. How can any person fully achieve one without the other?

Yet as America celebrates Independence Day with parades, barbecues and dazzling fireworks displays nationwide, it remains an unfortunate reality that equal opportunity for ALL citizens is still lacking -- despite significant progress made over the past half century.

The disparity of equality is still especially glaring in the 21st century workplace, from Wall Street to Main Street USA.

As I wrote here in 2016 per a blog post entitled, Why Workforce Diversity is Simply Good Business:

  • "All employment decisions should be strictly based on merit, talent and ability to do the job. All employees and applicants deserve the freedom to compete and advance in the workplace on a fair and level playing field without discriminatory barriers."
  • "There are still too many glass ceilings and sticky floors, so to speak, which hold talented employees back from reaching their full potential."
Just take a look at who still overwhelmingly wields power from corporate America to the U.S. Congress: rich white men. This is certainly not reflective of the modern day society in which we live and work. Moreover, despite the election and reelection of the first black President of the United States, Barack Obama, the hope of a post-racial society has failed to materialize.聽

Too many women and minorities are still held back by discrimination and stereotypes at the dawn of a new millennium.聽

Yes, we are moving in the right direction. But no, America has not yet arrived at the destination of equality for all, regardless of factors such as race, color, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion or socioeconomic status.

Reflecting on the CRA

When he signed the Civil Rights Act into law on July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson said the following:

  • 鈥淸O]ur generation of Americans has been called on to continue the unending search for justice within our own borders. We believe that all men are created equal. Yet many are denied equal treatment."
  • "We believe that all men have certain unalienable rights. Yet many Americans do not enjoy those rights."
  • "We believe that all men are entitled to the blessings of liberty. Yet millions are being deprived of those blessings-not because of their own failures, but because of the color of their skin."
  • "But it cannot continue. Our Constitution, the foundation of our Republic, forbids it. The principles of our freedom forbid it. Morality forbids it. And the law I will sign tonight forbids it.鈥

~
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Three Big Questions

While the landmark civil rights laws of the 1960s -- most notably the CRA and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 -- did not cure all societal ills, they certainly have had a long-term positive impact on the fabric of America. Yet vexing problems remain.

Therefore, as the USA celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, let's recall that freedom and equal opportunity for ALL beget independence for ALL.

Moreover, it should be obvious to any objective observer that equal opportunity for every American is still the great unfinished business of our nation. The history of civil rights in America still contains many critically important lessons for Millennials and their younger cohort, Generation Z. This is timely today because the fast evolving mobile, digital and virtual Information Age may transform societal norms and values in unforeseen ways going forward.

The good news is that today's young people tend not to view life through a racial lens, but to see people as people. Why can't all generations emulate that admirable outlook?

Following are some big questions to ponder:

1) What strategies should a new generation of leaders leverage to create the kind of society in which all people are judged on the "content of their character" and not the color of their skin (or other discriminatory factors), as civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of half a century ago?

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2) Where do we go from here to assure that every citizen in 21st century America is guaranteed the freedom and equal opportunities necessary to achieve the (too often elusive) American Dream, as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence? That being, "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

3) Are the answers really too perplexing with today's unprecedented demographic diversity, which is exemplified by an increasingly multi-racial, multi-ethnic, and multi-cultural society?

These are important questions to consider on this holiday as Americans think about the true spirit and meaning of Independence Day. What do freedom, equality and true independence for all citizens mean to you?

What do YOU think?

Please share your valuable comments below...

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____________________________________________________________________________________

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: I'm an independent writer and strategic communications advisor with over 20 years of experience in the public and private sectors -- including work in the White House, Congress, federal agencies, and national news media. I'm also a Brand Ambassador for beBee Affinity Social Network. In addition to beBee, you can find me buzzing around on Twitter, Medium, LinkedIn.

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Comments

David B. Grinberg

4 years ago #4

Many thanks 馃檹 to all who took the time to read, share, like, comment or otherwise engage with this Independence Day blogging buzz. I hope all Americans had a very happy Fourth of July. Also many thank to those outside the USA for sharing their well wishes, all of which is most appreciated! 馃檹馃悵馃悵馃嚭馃嚫 馃挜 馃挜馃挜馃嚭馃嚫

CityVP Manjit

4 years ago #3

Happy Fourth of July !.

David B. Grinberg

4 years ago #2

Many thanks 馃檹 to all who took the time to read, share, like, comment or otherwise engage with this Indepence Day blogging buzz. I wish all Americans a very happy Fourth of July and also thank those outside the USA for sharing their well wishes, all of which is most appreciated! 馃檹馃悵馃悵馃嚭馃嚫 馃挜 馃挜馃挜馃嚭馃嚫

David B. Grinberg

4 years ago #1

cc: Javier \ud83d\udc1d beBee

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