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The New York State Human Rights Law's 75th Anniversary


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In 1945, seventy-five years ago, New York State became the first state in the nation to enact legislation prohibiting discrimination in employment based on race, color, creed, and national origin. This is how the Division of Human Rights was born and we are proud to say that today, we continue in our legacy of leadership. This year we celebrate this great achievement and milestone in our agency's history. We invite you to celebrate this anniversary with us. Graphic depicting Statue of Liberty

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Learn more about DHR's achievements this past year.

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Speakers from the NYS Division of Human Rights are available for educational purposes. Click above to request a representative from DHR to speak for your organization or event.


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The New York State Human Rights Law covers all New Yorkers across the state and is enforced by the New York State Division of Human Rights. In addition to the State Human Rights Law, several counties, cities, and towns have their own laws prohibiting discrimination as well as local human rights commissions responsible for promoting those laws.


A Legacy of Leadership

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To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Human Rights Law, members of our staff, past and present, recorded videos to share what DHR and this anniversary mean to them. Video graphic
This 1945 clip from All-American News shows Governor Thomas E. Dewey signing the Ives-Quinn Act (NYS Human Rights Law). 1945: The Signing of the New York State Human Rights Law (Ives-Quinn Act)
WNYC aired many programs aimed at raising awareness of racial issues and instructing the citizenry on the ways in which this Law would impact their lives. One such program, "Freedom's Ladder," mixed entertainment with discussion of navigating the ins and outs of the new Anti-Discrimination Law. In this undated episode from 1946, host Bill Chase discusses the Anti-Discrimination Law with Lillian Sharp Hunter of the New York State Commission Against Discrimination and Ludlow W. Werner, editor of the New York Age. Freedom's Ladder: WNYC and New York's Anti-Discrimination Law
 
This 1949 New York State Commission Against Discrimination film, hosted by C-SPAN, details the state’s anti-discrimination law and argues that talented and productive citizens are being held back by prejudice. The film shows the commission at work, and includes the story of a newly hired African American laborer who overcomes the skepticism of prejudiced co-workers. An Equal Chance

Events Commemorating the 75th Anniversary

State Human Rights Laws As Laboratories of Democracy - 12/8/2020

The first part of this event will focus on the history and legacy of the Human Rights Law, and our agency's role. The second part of the program will provide a comparative analysis of different jurisdictions and protections pertaining to discrimination under the law and explore how state and local human rights laws have served to advance the causes of justice and equality.



Discrimination and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Race, Disability, and the Struggle for Equal Treatment - 12/15/2020

This virtual program celebrating DHR’s 75th anniversary focused on an issue that continues to impact all of us: the COVID-19 Pandemic. While no one is immune from COVID-19, we have seen that certain communities have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and its effects. Throughout the pandemic, we have been forced to reckon with unjust targeting and attacks against Asian Americans, systemic health care disparities in Black and Brown communities, and the challenges, particularly in workplaces, for people with disabilities. This discussion focused on the role that civil rights and anti-discrimination protections, including the NYS Human Rights Law, can play to ensure that all communities are protected and safe as we continue to battle this global pandemic.