AFC Statement Celebrating the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Statement from Ann Duplessis, AFC board member, and Bill Oberndorf, AFC chairman:

“As we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we reflect on his commitment to the principle that that men and women everywhere, regardless of color or creed, are equal members of the human family. Dr. King dedicated his life to achieving equality for African Americans in all realms of American life, including the workplace, lunch counters and schools.

“In May of 1965, Dr. King, in his ‘People to People’ column that appeared in the New York Amsterdam News, portrayed an education landscape which sadly could describe America’s K-12 education system of today. As Dr. King wrote,

“‘We owe it to our children to give them the best possible chance to cope with the realities of this world. If we are not careful another generation will slip by, paralyzed and ill-equipped for a lifetime. There is no need in kidding ourselves, that this education, poor as it is, is better than none. Year in and year out, children finish twelfth grade with reading and mathematics skills crippled at the fifth or sixth grade level.’

“Dr. King was writing in the context of the segregated education system of the 1960s. Today, America’s education system is failing our children—not just African-American children. As we look at 12th grade math, only 25 percent of American students are at or above proficient in the subject. And math proficiency for African-American students is even lower at only 7 percent.

“We cannot let yet another generation slip by, paralyzed and ill-equipped for a lifetime. The American Federation for Children will continue to champion school choice options that provide all children—regardless of race, religion or economic status—access to a quality education that allows them to build the strong foundation needed to succeed and reach their potential.”