CRS History

President Johnson Realizes the Vision

President Johnson Headshot


"It could be one of the longest and most far reaching steps toward an ultimate solution to the civil rights movement that can be taken." - Then Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson, Introducing a Bill to the Senate to Establish the Community Relations Service

The Community Relations Service was established under Title X of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to resolve "disputes, disagreements, or difficulties relating to discriminatory practices based on race, color, or national origin."  The Act was passed during the United States Civil Rights Movement, a period of great racial tension and civil disorder.  Knowing that these conflicts would likely increase when the Act was implemented and enforced, Congress created CRS as a conflict resolution agency, tasked with resolving disputes, disagreements, or conflicts over race-based community tensions.  50 years later, CRS's work on these types of conflict continues.  In 2011, more than half of the hate crimes reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reporting Program were committed on the bases of race, ethnicity, or national origin.


President Obama Expands the Vision

President Obama Headshot


"Through this law, we will strengthen the protections against crimes based on the color of your skin, the faith in your heart, or the place of your birth. We will finally add federal protections against crimes abased on gender, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation." - President Barack Obama, Signing Into Law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009

In 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.  The Act was named for two hate crimes victims: Matthew Shepard, a young man who was beaten to death in 1998 because of his sexual orientation, and James Byrd, Jr., an African American man who was killed after being dragged behind a truck because of his race.  The Act expanded the federal definition of hate crimes, and gave the federal government greater jurisdiction in prosecuting hate crimes committed on the bases of actual or perceived race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or disability.


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Updated October 22, 2015