(Extensions of Remarks - May 03, 1995)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E947]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                          HON. STENY H. HOYER

                              of maryland

                    in the house of representatives

                         Wednesday, May 3, 1995
  Mr. HOYER. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Ralph Neas and 
the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, true leaders in the fight 
for civil rights. For the last 45 years the conference has worked 
diligently on this effort and has been successful in accomplishing some 
of the biggest civil rights victories in our Nation's history.
  Many of these victories were won during the past 14 years under the 
successful leadership of Ralph Neas. Ralph has directed the lobbying, 
grassroots, legal research, and media efforts of the largest, oldest, 
and most broadly based civil rights coalition in this Nation. Ralph 
always believed his professional training as chief legislative 
assistant to two Senators and his triumph over Guillan-Barre syndrome 
had adequately prepared him for the challenges which were ahead for 
LCCR. During his tenure, Ralph served as a coalition builder as he kept 
the conference's diverse leadership united and effective. Through his 
work with LCCR, he has earned respect for his ability to build bridges 
between disparate communities of interest and across the spectrum of 
political ideologies.
  The first major victory which Ralph and his LCCR colleagues won was 
passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1982. Bipartisanship, creativity, 
and leadership were all necessary to win this uphill battle. The 
Leadership Conference, led by Ralph exhibited all of these qualities 
during the almost 2-year campaign to enact this major piece of 
legislation. The hard work of LCCR set the stage for what would be 
numerous victories throughout his next 14 years as executive director.
  Ralph Neas was one of the first leaders of the mainstream civil 
rights movement to recognize the civil rights struggle of people with 
disabilities. He brought disability issues to the forefront of the 
civil rights struggle and was instrumental in securing the enactment of 
the first civil rights laws for people with disabilities, the Americans 
With Disabilities Act. This would not have been possible without 
Ralph's vision, leadership, and commitment.
  Ralph is also well known as a brilliant legislative strategist. Using 
that skill, as well as creativity and leadership, he led the fights 
which resulted in the passage of several additional major legislative 
initiatives. These initiatives include: the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 
the fair housing amendments of 1988, the Japanese-American redress 
bill, and the Civil Rights Restoration Act.
  Not only did Ralph Neas experience great legislative success as the 
executive director of LCCR, he also experienced great institutional 
successes. His astute management led to a massive growth of the 
conference. The organization's budget grew seven fold since 1981 and 
added more than 50 new national
 organizations. Currently, 180 national organizations with memberships 
totaling more than 50 million Americans now belong to the conference. 
This significant growth has allowed LCCR to meet new challenges as an 
even stronger, more united, and effective group.

  In addition to his duties as executive director, Ralph Neas managed 
the Leadership Conference's education fund, an independent organization 
that supports educational activities relevant to civil rights. In this 
capacity, he has supervised projects promoting tolerance an diversity, 
has led a successful children's antidiscrimination campaign, and 
published books and reports on emerging civil rights issues.
  This month, Ralph will step down as executive director of the 
Leadership Conference and will embark upon new challenges in his life 
and career. We can all be assured that the new challenges which lie 
ahead for him will be marked by continued commitment to justice and 
equality for all Americans.
  It is my pleasure to join many Americans in thanking Ralph for his 
unselfish service to his Nation and its people. It is also my distinct 
pleasure to congratulate the Leadership Conference on its 45th 
anniversary. Due to the Ralph Neas and the Leadership Conference's 
commitment and dedication to the civil rights movement, the past 45 
years have been a strong, legislative, bipartisan reaffirmation of 
civil rights. We are a greater Nation because of the many successful 
battles fought and won by Ralph Neas and the Leadership Conference on 
civil rights, and I know that Ralph and the LCCR will continue to lead 
the way towards a nation of equality, justice, and strength.