Dear Reader,

Getting Uncle Sam to Enforce Your Civil Rights is a comprehensive resource for the American public that explains where and how an aggrieved individual can file a discrimination claim. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights publishes this guide to aid the public in accessing entities responsible for civil rights enforcement. The Commission lacks enforcement powers to apply specific remedies in individual cases; however, it refers the many complaints it receives to the appropriate federal, state, or local government agencies, or private organizations that are authorized to help.

This publication is one of many that the Commission issues as part of its duty to serve as a national clearinghouse for information about discrimination or denial of equal protection of the laws because of race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin. The Commission and its State Advisory Committees have produced and disseminated hundreds of reports, studies, and public service announcements on national, regional, and local civil rights matters. These include the Commissionís Civil Rights Journal, published periodically, which contains articles on topical civil rights issues.

Copies of Commission publications, as well as a ďCatalog of Publications,Ē are available free to the public, by request to the Publications Office, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 624 Ninth Street, NW, Room 600, Washington, DC 20425. This is also the location of the Commissionís Robert S. Rankin Civil Rights Memorial Library, which is open to the public during business hours on weekdays. In addition, many of the Commissionís more recent publications, including this one, can be accessed on its Web site at The Commission periodically updates the online version of this publication.

The Commissionís reports and studies result from the agencyís mandate to appraise federal civil rights laws and policies, investigate complaints of voting rights violations, and study and collect information relating to discrimination or a denial of equal protection of the laws. Fact-finding for carrying out these functions includes the holding of hearings, briefings, presentations, and forums in Washington and other locations around the country, to gather evidence and information for findings and reports. These Commission activities examine important civil rights issues of both national and local impact and are open to the public.

To obtain a referral, individuals may call the Commissionís toll-free complaint line, or any of the Commissionís six regional offices in Washington, DC; Atlanta; Chicago; Kansas City; Denver; and Los Angeles (see pages 3 and 101 of this publication). The Commissionís regional offices coordinate local operations and assist the Commissionís 51 State Advisory Committees (one for each state and the District of Columbia) in their activities. Advisory Committees are composed of volunteer citizens familiar with local and state civil rights issues who assist the Commission with fact-finding, investigation, and information dissemination.

The Commission is proud to issue this publication as a public service, and hopes that in so doing, all Americans will find it a useful and convenient resource for protecting and securing their civil rights.


Staff Director