I’ve often said that education is the civil rights issue of our time. I’m not the first to say it. But what does that mean?
Civil rights means having the same opportunities that other people do –regardless of what you look like, where you come from, or whom you love.
And in today’s world, to have real opportunity, you need a world-class education.
Fifty years after the March on Washington, how far has the struggle for young people’s civil rights come?
With Jim Crow segregation ended and an African-American president speaking tomorrow at the 50th anniversary of the March, our progress is undeniable.
Yet in a time when so many young people don’t enjoy rights as basic as safety from violence, and when so many children lack the educational opportunities they deserve, there is a lot of work still ahead of us. The vision that electrified the country in 1963 – the vision of Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, and the other leaders of the March – remains ahead of us. And it will take struggle to get there – a struggle our young people must lead.
Today, I had the privilege of speaking to students and civil rights leaders at the School Without Walls in Washington, D.C., about the state of civil rights for our young people. At the event, hosted by the King Center and Discovery Education, I urged the students to join a heroic struggle that began long before they were born.
Arne Duncan is U.S. Secretary of Education