After winning Kentucky's Republican Senate primary, Rand Paul gave several interviews where he questioned certain provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. For Paul, the fact that the Civil Rights Act forced private businesses to adopt anti-racist policies was a sign of overzealous government. Instead, Paul argues, the U.S. should have allowed the free hand of the market to address systematic racism in the country.
But Paul is sorely in need of a history lesson. The market would never have eliminated slavery, nor would it have eliminated the scourge of racism at lunch counters, grocery stores, hotels, gas stations and other private businesses throughout the country.
In the wake of Paul's comments, Benjamin Jealous, the President and CEO of the NAACP, has challenged Paul to a debate, to discuss the history and importance of the Civil Rights Act. Given Paul's careless comments and poor understanding of the history behind one of the 20th century's most important pieces of legislation, urge Paul and his campaign to accept this debate. If Rand Paul wants a seat in the highest elected body in the country, he should be willing to engage in an open debate about his vision for America. Kentucky voters deserve no less, so that they can have a clear sense of where Paul stands on these issues.
Join our challenge to Rand Paul to a debate with Benjamin Jealous by signing the petition below.
Benjamin Jealous, the President and CEO of the NAACP, responded to your statements by suggesting that while your opinions are bold, they are not informed by the history of the struggle for civil rights in this country. The marketplace alone has never been an adequate tool to address the systematic scourge of racism.
Mr. Jealous has offered to debate you on the history and merits of the Civil Rights Act, and I encourage you to accept Jealous' offer. You are running for a seat in the highest elected body in the country, and if you're elected, you will be setting policy for an entire country. Voters in Kentucky and across the U.S. deserve to know what your vision for America is, particularly on the issue of civil rights.
A topic as important as race deserves our undivided attention. I urge you to accept this debate offer from Mr. Jealous, so that no questions remain about your position on civil rights, and your feelings toward the 1964 Civil Rights Act.