Bruce Smith first began speaking out against inequity when he attended the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 and, since then, he hasn’t stopped.
With a 50-year record of advocating for civil rights, it’s no surprise that Smith found himself at a rally this week marking the 60th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education, which led to the desegregation of the nation’s public schools.
The retired educator, who spent years working as a reading specialist for middle and high school students in Virginia, joined other teachers, education support professionals, higher education faculty, parents, and community leaders Tuesday in front of the high court.
“I hope it [the rally] will draw some attention to the unfinished agenda of Brown v. Board,” said Smith. “We need to open people up to the fact that there is more work to do to provide quality public schools for all kids in America.”
The rally was sponsored, in part, by the National Education Association (NEA), which represents more than 3 million educators nationwide.
NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, an Arizona math teacher, believes the future of public education stands at a critical juncture–one similar to the pre-Brown days. Nearly half of the nation’s students are low income; forty-four percent are either Black or Hispanic and both populations are concentrated in segregated schools.
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