To those who believe that the bad ol’ days of segregation and unequal treatment of minorities is behind us, I give you this story from the LA Times about retired black police officers in Georgia who are still trying to get a remedy for past injustices:
A “whites only” sign was still hanging on the precinct house water fountain in 1964 when James Booker joined the suburban College Park police force. He soon learned it wasn’t the only thing off limits to Georgia ‘s new black recruits.
Until 1976, black officers were blocked from joining a state-supported supplemental police retirement fund. Today, white officers who entered the fund before that year are taking home hundreds of dollars more every month in retirement benefits than their black counterparts.
The now-retired black officers have been lobbying hard to change that, but eight years after they began an effort to amend the state constitution and give them credit for those lost years is stalled in the Legislature. The Georgia Constitution prohibits the state from extending new benefits to public employees after they have retired.
If lawmakers don’t take action in the final weeks of the legislative session, the battle will move to the courthouse this spring, said state Rep.Tyrone Brooks, an Atlanta Democrat and civil rights activist leading the officers’ campaign.
Come on, Georgia, do the right thing. Give these police officers who gave the best years of their lives the pension payments they have always deserved. If not, this situation will continue to be an unwelcome reminder that much still has to be accomplished in the area of racial justice in the workplace, especially in the South.