The Tennessee Human Rights Commission Board of Directors has approved plans at its September board meeting to increase visibility and understanding of the Commission in coordination with the agency’s 50th anniversary in September 2013.

Commissioners Jocelyn Dan Wurzburg of Memphis and Patricia A. Pierce of Harriman will chair the subcommittee to plan activities around the state leading up to the culminating celebration. “The Education and Outreach Committee is pleased to have the expertise and historical knowledge of Commissioners Wurzburg and Pierce to lead the Commission in our planning efforts for the 50th Anniversary Celebration. We expect to have an eventful year of celebration and acknowledgement of the agency’s meaningful work,” said Commissioner Paul McDaniel of Chattanooga, who chairs the Education and Outreach Committee.

On Sept. 30, 1963, Gov. Frank G. Clement signed Executive Order 18 creating the Tennessee Human Relations Commission whose purpose was advising the public on the human rights laws of that time. In 1967, the state legislature created the Tennessee Commission on Human Development.

In 1978, that the Tennessee Human Rights Act became law and transformed the Commission into an enforcement agency with the power to investigate, conciliate and litigate claims of discrimination. Throughout the late 1970s- early 1980s, the Commission expanded protections to include disability, age and familial status (housing only) and officially became the Tennessee Human Rights Commission (THRC).

Since 1979, THRC has partnered with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In 1994, THRC became partners with the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. These partnerships allow the THRC to extend federal protections to persons alleging discrimination. Today, the THRC mission is to safeguard individuals from discrimination through enforcement and education.

Through a variety of enriching and educational workshops, meetings, and events, the Commission seeks to celebrate 50 years of enforcing Tennessee anti-discrimination law and educating the public on their rights.

A calendar of events will be released and speakers will be available upon request. For more information, see the website at www.tn.gov/humanrights.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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