Secretary Duncan issued the following statement on the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery marches:
Fifty years ago, the marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, were for voting rights. Today, the march for equal access and opportunity continues, especially in our classrooms. No matter students’ race, gender, zip code, disability or first language, they deserve the opportunities that access to an excellent education can provide. The Edmund Pettus Bridge may exist in Selma, but the spirit of what that bridge represents today should live in each of us. That spirit should keep us working hard until every child who lives in an underprivileged community has access to the same educational opportunities as the child who lives across the tracks in an affluent suburb. That spirit should force us to put politics aside and do what is right for all children, not just a few. Equality is for every student—from rural Alabama and Mississippi to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.—who believes that if they get a quality education and work hard, that the American dream is theirs—and that the bridge of hope has no barriers nor final destinations. The spirit of the Pettus Bridge reminds us of how far we’ve come and how far we still need to go.