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Jeanne Allen: Remembering Education Equity at the March

The commemoration of the March on Washington (Aug 28,1963) this weekend is cause to remember that while struggles in economic and educational equity did and do exist, there were people who for years had been working to integrate schools, even before the Brown v Board of Education ruling in 1954.

One such person was DC Archbishop and later Cardinal Patrick O’Boyle who led the integration of Catholic schools here before any mandate caused him to do so. O’Boyle believed that “we are all God’s children regardless of race.” That principle today may live  in most hearts but is sadly not always put to practice. Despite the clear superiority of equality as a principle that should guide the manner in which we educate children, our governments’ leaders in all but a handful of communities and states still assign children unequally to schools based on their zip code. While many religious and spiritual leaders joined the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr in calling for equality and indeed were like Archbishop O’Boyle welcoming all races to school together, too many of our current civil rights leaders reject publicly supported school choice programs that involve the same religious entities that once freed children. Many work to change their hearts and minds. We must do that, and more. To that end I share excerpts from D C’s Archbishop O’Boyle’s opening prayer on August 28, 1963 at the historic March on Washington:

“Bless this nation and all its people. May the warmth of Your love replace the coldness that springs from prejudice and bitterness. Send in our midst the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of all to the great truth that all men are equal in Your sight. Let us understand that simple justice demands that the rights of all be honored by every man…May we move forward without bitterness even when confronted with prejudice and discrimination…and live together as brothers in dignity, justice, charity and peace.”



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