(TRENTON) – Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer) released the following statement Wednesday on Gov. Chris Christie’s comment that, “People would have been happy to have a referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South.”
“It’s difficult to understand what the governor was thinking. His words defy history and were extremely insensitive to the struggle for equality of African-Americans and other minorities in this country. Fighting and dying in the streets of the South was not a choice, Governor, it was the only way.
“Anyone who lived through that time or took a history class in school understands it was an incredibly dangerous and hostile period for African-Americans and other minorities in the South. Basic human rights should never be decided by a referendum. But can you imagine the outcome if civil rights in this country, during this very racially charged time in our history, had been left up to a vote?
“It took leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. to inspire legislators to ensure civil rights for everyone in this country, regardless of race, age or creed. If the Governor was hoping to defend his reprehensible stance on marriage equality by suggesting that those who fought and died for civil rights in this county would have preferred a referendum, that by all historical accounts would have been most likely defeated, he failed miserably.”