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Arne Duncan Joins Al Sharpton’s Civil Rights March

By Alyson Klein — December 13, 2014 1 min read
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U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is among thousands of demonstrators who participated in a march through Washington, D.C. Saturday to focus attention on recent law enforcement actions that led to the deaths of unarmed African-American men, according to a tweet sent from his official account. (See the tweet for yourself below.)

The march—which highlighted the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Trayvon Martin, among others—was organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. Duncan appears to be one of the most prominent—if not the most prominent—public officials to join the peaceful protest. He’s the only Obama administration cabinet official to take part, according to Addie Whisenant, a White House spokeswoman. More details about the demonstration in this Washington Post story.

Duncan’s role in the event was as a participant and marcher, not a speaker, or dignitary. Duncan has long expressed concerns about gun violence, in part because of crimes against students in Chicago when he served as superintendent. (For more, see this interview with PBS’ Gwen Ifill shortly after the December 2012 slayings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.)

What’s more, the march’s message was in part about the dangers of “implicit bias"—positive or negative assumptions about a person because of their race or gender. That’s something the U.S. Department of Education sought to guard against in recent discipline guidance.

And this isn’t the first time that Duncan has found common cause with Sharpton. Back in 2008, as the superintendent of Chicago schools, Duncan signed a statement crafted by the Education Equality Project, headed up by Sharpton and then-N.Y.C. schools chancellor Joel Klein, which called for a “no excuses” approach to education redesign. And right before President Barack Obama’s first inauguration in January of 2009, he participated in an event in Washington organized by the group.

Here’s the tweet: (Hat tip to Evie Blad of Rules for Engagement fame for spotting it.)

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