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Happy 43rd Anniversary, 1964 Civil Rights Act! Title VI Compliance Still MIA In Clarksville

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King observesWe are now in the 43rd anniversary year of the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That’s quite a milestone for the nation. Sadly, it’s a dark anniversary for Clarksville and the state of Tennessee. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law on July 2nd of that year. (Pictured left.)

Tennessee State Archives records show our own state legislature didn’t adopt it into the state’s law code until 1993. That’s twenty-nine years after it had became the law of the land! The law of the land, that is, except for the State of Tennessee.

That lag in time may help explain why our own city council has refused, even now, to adopt Title VI of that law, as the city’s official non-discrimination policy. There is a policy statement on display in city offices and the city’s website, to be sure. However, since it is required that the legislative controlling body of local government formally adopt Title VI mandates as official policy to receive federal financial assistance, these displays are meaningless without the council’s follow-thru. A mayoral proclamation is inapplicable. As TDOT’s Commissioner Nicely noted in August 2005, the city is not in compliance with the federal law.

Federal regulations and rules are easily available to the public via the U.S. doj.gifDept. of Justice (USDOJ) website. [http://www.usdoj.gov] Yet our city council continues to profess ignorance of this law. It is past time for the city attorney, even in an interim capacity, to “inform” them. They were elected to make “informed decisions!” They should be abused of their ignorance! A simple search on Google will direct you to the USDOJ website where an inquiry about Title VI will yield a wealth of information for careful perusal. [http://www.usdoj.gov/ocr]

Let us keep in mind a few salient facts:

  • The city council has refused to adopt Title VI as the official policy of nondiscrimination.
  • The City of Clarksville has no Title VI Implementation Plan.
  • This city has lost every discrimination lawsuit filed against it since 2004 that has proceeded to trial- EVERY ONE.
  • The city has been saddled with heavy judgments from each of the lost lawsuits, still yet to be paid. Our liability coverage, if indeed there is any, exceeds the minimum. That is a financial burden not needed as we seek to grow our community.
  • The city, as of 2005, had failed to notify federal agencies from whom it was receiving federal financial assistance that racial discrimination lawsuits had been filed against it. This is a major violation of Title VI law, statutes and regulations.
  • Receipt of federal financial assistance carries a mandate of Title VI compliance and enforcement by all recipient parties- prime and sub-recipient alike.
  • Both the Tennessee Title VI Compliance Commission Director, Dr. John Birdsong, and TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely informed the city it must have its own Title VI Implementation Plan in August 2005. Almost two years ago now. With no corrective action by the City Council as yet.

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