Civil Rights Leaders Announce New “Invest in Equality” Initiative to Fulfill the Promise of Brown v. Board of Education

Media 05.17.04

Topeka, KS – At a special proclamation ceremony hosted by Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius commemorating the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, civil rights leaders praised that landmark ruling, expressed dismay at how many children today attend schools that are separate and unequal, and announced a 12-point plan to Invest in Equality, focusing on better funding for America’s schools and communities.

Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition, said, “The numbers tell a chilling story of unequal opportunity and lack of a quality education that impacts the future of America. Black and Hispanic children drop out of high school at twice the rate of white children. A third of all black, 30 percent of Hispanic, 14 percent of white, and 12 percent of Asian children – a total of 12 million children – live in poverty.”

“Something important has been missing from the latest education initiatives – investment. Without investing in teachers, families, and communities, we cannot achieve equal opportunity in America. The 12-point program we are announcing today addresses the cold hard facts: we simply cannot tell students, teachers, and schools to achieve higher standards. We must give them the tools to do so,” continued Henderson.

“Education is the key that opens the door that leads to opportunity, and for many Americans that provides an exit from poverty. All children, regardless of the color of their skin, the God they worship, or the circumstance of their parents, deserve the right to a quality education. Today, too many children in our country attend segregated, second-class schools. Only a multi-faceted investment will change this dynamic,” he said.

“To keep the promise of Brown and realize the dream of Martin Luther King, we must improve education, ensure diversity, and end the cycle of poverty for millions of Americans,” said Henderson.