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March 8, 2010 speech vs Reality Today:
SELMA, Ala. -- In a major speech at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today will address the challenges of ensuring equity, equal educational opportunity and access before a group of students, community leaders and elected officials. After the speech, Duncan will join the group in marching across the bridge to commemorate the infamous “Bloody Sunday” civil rights protest.
“The struggle for equal opportunity in our nation's schools and universities is not at an end,” Secretary Duncan said in prepared remarks. “We will work with schools and enforce laws to ensure that all children, no matter what their race, gender, disability or native origin, have a fair chance at a good future.”
The beatings of peaceful civil rights protesters on “Bloody Sunday” in Selma 45 years ago ultimately led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In his remarks at the bridge, Secretary Duncan will outline ongoing impediments to equal educational opportunity and the administration's intentions to work with schools and postsecondary institutions to address them.
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the Department of Education plays a critical role in ensuring educational equity by enforcing laws that protect students from discrimination on the basis of sex, race, national origin, and disability status. Duncan will vow to reinvigorate equity and enforcement activities in OCR, calling education “The civil rights issue of our generation.”