By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
CINNAMINSON – The Southern Burlington County NAACP has canceled a private showing of the movie “Harriet” Saturday before its joint Freedom Fund Dinner with the Willingboro & Vicinity NAACP in protest of Comcast challenging Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866.
The branch said the section was created to safeguard equal opportunities for Americans to work, bank, shop, rent or buy a home, and become entrepreneurs without racial discrimination, the civil rights groups said. It protects a broad swath of people, including independent contractors in the gig economy and consumers racially profiled by retailers, in scenarios not covered by other major civil rights statutes.
SBC NAACP said Comcast is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to limit the reach of the sections in its dispute to African-American broadcaster Bryon Allen and Entertainment Studios.
The Hollywood Reporter said earlier this month that Allen’s case against Comcast for it refusal to license his niche channels could lead to how discrimination lawsuits are handled in the future, creating a possible landscape for great legal change.
Comcast owns the film production company of “Harriet,” a motion picture about Underground Railroad heroine Harriet Tubman. The Southern Burlington Chapter had planned to show the film leading into its joint Freedom Fund Gala at the Westin Mount Laurel.
“The branch decided to take a stand as a long standing civil rights act is being threatened in court by the owner of the film’s production company, Comcast,” said SBC NAACP spokesman Marcus Sibley.
Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund shared the significance of the lawsuit.
“An adverse ruling could make our oldest civil rights statute virtually impotent in all but a narrow sliver of cases,” Ifill said in a statement. The law was designed to ‘place African Americans on equal footing with white Americans and to remove the vestiges of slavery by outlawing conduct not only by states, but also by private parties, that would prevent African Americans from developing the means to work, build wealth, have access to the justice system to vindicate their rights, and live freely after enslavement.”
Crystal D. Charley, President Southern Burlington County NAACP, said in the released statement by the local chapter that it believes the Supreme Court must set a precedence that racial discrimination cannot be condoned.
“At stake here is far bigger than Comcast or Mr. Allen,” Charley said. “Our position regarding this case is based on the irretrievable harm to black people and other marginalized communities. If ruled in Comcast’s favor, this would be a devastating blow to our oldest civil rights statute.”
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