Sen. Clinton Accuses Bush of ‘Walking Away’ From Goals of Brown
The Bush administration has abandoned the hopes for progress created by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling declaring racial segregation illegal in public schools, U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton says.
The New York Democrat told an NAACP fund-raising dinner in April that President Bush has claimed to support education but has failed to fund his No Child Left Behind Act so that schools can actually meet its requirements.
About 10,000 people attended the third annual Freedom Weekend, which culminated with the 49th Annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner. The event was titled “Brown v. Board of Education 50 Years Later: Where Do We Go From Here?”
In a 35-minute address, Clinton accused the Bush administration of “walking away” from the goals and promises created by the Supreme Court decision.
“We have to get real about what it is we are going to do to make our children successful in the future,” she said.
Urging the audience to vote in November’s presidential election, she added: “We must have political leadership that cares about the goals that were set 50 years ago by Brown.”
Participants said education holds the key to bringing equality and opportunity to Black Americans, much as it did at the time of the landmark court decision a half-century ago.
Among the guests was Paul Fletcher, 56, of Largo, Fla., who was in the first group of Black school children allowed to attend public elementary school in Topeka, Kan., after the Supreme Court forced schools there to integrate in the 1950s.
Fletcher, a Republican whose father, Arthur Fletcher, shaped affirmative action from inside several GOP administrations, said education is a responsibility to be shared.
“Our governments and schools must be responsible, and our parents and families must be responsible. Education is a personal responsibility, but you need both halves,” Paul Fletcher said.
Arthur Fletcher, 80, who is still a Republican and avid supporter of affirmative action, received the civil rights association’s lifetime achievement award.
Also honored was retired Army Specialist and former POW Shoshana Johnson, whose voice cracked while accepting the group’s “freedom and justice'” award. Denying that she deserved the honor, she accepted it on behalf of “three young Black men” who were serving with her and were killed the day she was captured in Iraq.
“They were my friends, and they were my comrades, and they were my heroes,” Johnson said.
The event was one of many being held around the country in 2004 commemorating the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, which determined that separate-but-equal schools for White and Black students were unfair and unconstitutional.
— Associated Press
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