Civil Rights Coalition Laments Departure of Berry, Reynoso from U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

Media 12.10.04

WASHINGTON – Wade Henderson, Executive Director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest and most diverse civil and human rights coalition, issued the following statement regarding the resignations of U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) Chairperson Mary Frances Berry and Vice Chairperson Cruz Reynoso:

“This week’s departure of Mary Frances Berry and Cruz Reynoso from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights marks the end of two very distinguished and important tenures of service. As the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights coalition, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights is one of the Commission’s most ardent stakeholders. Our organization has enjoyed a long and invaluable relationship with Dr. Berry and Justice Reynoso, who both stand out as icons of the civil rights movement. They embody the passion and activism that upholds the noblest ideals of social justice.

“Dr. Berry’s immense contribution to public service and public discourse leaves an indelible print on our national fabric. Her leadership and commitment to the enforcement of civil rights laws has been unwavering over the course of a tenure that spans nearly 25 years and five presidents. On Dr. Berry’s watch as chairperson, the Commission has monitored critical issues ranging from voting rights to fair housing, to environmental justice to equal educational access. She has ensured that the Commission was a forum to take on important issues of injustice and marginalization, overseeing an exhaustive review of voting irregularities after the 2000 Presidential Elections in Florida, combating racial intolerance and hate crimes in the wake of the tragic September 11th attacks, and more recently, shining a spotlight on the injustices facing Native Alaskans and Native Americans.

“For more than a decade, Justice Reynoso has used his lifelong commitment to fairness to shape the important work of the Commission. He is one of the leading Latino civil rights leaders of his generation, having devoted his energy throughout his distinguished career to the tireless pursuit of social justice – work that resulted, among countless other honors, in his being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian award.

“With courage and tenacity, Dr. Berry and Justice Reynoso challenged the status quo that threatens civil rights protections for all Americans. We all are better as a result of their leadership on the Commission, and we will sorely miss their involvement during the challenging times that lay ahead.”