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Published in Print: July 28, 2004, as National Center Aims to Train Civil Rights Activists

National Center Aims to Train Civil Rights Activists

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Training and educating the next generation of civil rights advocates is the goal of the newly formed National Equity Center.

The center was founded this month in recognition of the 40th anniversary of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

John H. Jackson, the chairman of the National Equity Center, said too few young people are learning about the nation’s civil rights history. In addition, leaders of the social-justice movement are aging, he said, so the center hopes to fill what could become a void in leadership.

"This country is still separate and unequal," said Mr. Jackson, who is also the national director of education for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "We need a new generation of social advocates."

The center will prepare both teachers and students in high school, college, and law and graduate school by educating them about past civil rights and social-justice struggles. But center organizers also want to encourage participants to tackle the nation’s current civil rights challenges.

The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, a Silver Spring, Md.-based organization representing black colleges and universities, is joining the effort.

Student Internships

Regional offices of the National Equity Center will be established on the campuses of three historically black colleges and universities, three Hispanic-serving institutions, and one historic site from civil rights struggles. Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans will house one of the offices.

The center plans to hold monthlong summer training sessions starting next year, Mr. Jackson said. An internship program will be established to give high school and college students work at nonprofit social-justice organizations. The center also will provide support for people interested in researching civil rights and social-justice issues in education, housing, economic empowerment, voting, and criminal justice.

Sodexho USA of Gaithersburg, Md., awarded a $25,000 planning grant to the center.

Vol. 23, Issue 43, Page 11

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