CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia leaders marked Civil Rights Day on Monday with a virtual ceremony focused on efforts addressing discrimination and the work of the West Virginia Human Rights Commission.
Gov. Jim Justice had signed a proclamation declaring Monday as Civil Rights Day in West Virginia with a focus on advancing the work to improve civil rights. The West Virginia Human Rights Commission hosted the event, which came a day after the 59th anniversary of the civil rights March on Washington.
“It’s really, really, really important to all,” Justice said in a recorded message. “I’ve said it over and over and over: Why in the world do we continue to discriminate between race and gender and religion and on and on? Absolutely, are we not just one people?”
U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., each delivered remarks on the importance of civil rights and related advocacy. Capito mentioned the support of her father — late Gov. Arch Moore — toward advancing civil rights legislation while a member of the House of Representatives.
“In the midst of unimaginable turmoil, the first of us took the ultimate stand and created a land where those in the mountains will always be free,” Capito continued. “We must do our best every day to make sure our state motto rings true and reject discrimination that we see in our communities.”
Maurice Cooley, the former vice president of intercultural affairs and student affairs at Marshall University, delivered the event’s keynote address. Cooley said addressing discrimination requires a willingness to “create harmony with those who are different.”
“This harmony comes about in human nature in our normal psychosocial development process, from the time that we’re growing up at an early age where we eventually develop a personality and character,” he explained.
West Virginia Public Broadcasting will show a recorded version of the event on Sept. 5 at 7 p.m.