THE 56TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964
July 02, 2020
Today marks the 56th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That landmark act, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in our schools, workplaces, and public facilities, is one of the most consequential civil rights laws in our country’s history.
Last week, Secretary Betsy DeVos and Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Kenneth L. Marcus sent education leaders a letter marking this anniversary and reminding them of their obligation to address race discrimination in their schools. The letter emphasized that racism has no place in our nation or in our schools:
As a nation, we must do better for our children and for all students. Racial discrimination is both wrong and illegal. As education leaders, you must confront and address race discrimination in your schools. We encourage you to speak up for equal treatment, promptly address discrimination, and work proactively to promote educational excellence for all students in our schools. Schools alone cannot end racism, and neither can the Department of Education. But creating a safe and inclusive learning environment is a key step towards making equality more powerful and permanent for all Americans.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) works each day to ensure that all students have equal educational opportunities without regard to race or national origin and that no student is treated differently because of the color of their skin. In the last three fiscal years alone, OCR has entered into 520 resolution agreements requiring schools to make changes to address racial discrimination concerns (a 16% increase as compared to the three prior fiscal years). For additional information on OCR’s increased activity enforcing Title VI, see OCR’s latest annual report.