President Bush and Senator Kerry Tell What They Would Do for Blacks
THE 2004 presidential election is the most critical of our lifetime and raises issues that will probably tilt the scales for or against African-Americans for the foreseeable future. During four previous presidential campaigns, EBONY has questioned the two major presidential candidates on issues critical to African-Americans and other Americans, and we print on the following pages the answers of President George W. Bush of the Republican Party and Senator John Kerry of the Democratic Party. We urge our readers to consider their answers carefully and to vote as though their lives and the lives of their children depended on it.
EBONY: We recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, and the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Coalition's March Civil Washington. Why should Americans dedicated to the fulfillment of the goals of the Civil Rights Movement and the Brown v. Board of Education decision vote for you?
PRESIDENT BUSH: In America, we are fortunate that when we vote we can choose the candidate who best represents our shared values. Throughout my Administration, I have proven my commitment to creating a Nation that values every member of society and provides people with equal opportunities to succeed.
I believe that education is the new civil right. Progress for African Americans, and progress for all Americans, requires good schools. Too often, the system has shuffled through those children who were labeled "hard to educate." My Administration has refused to accept this soft bigotry of low expectations and has made education reform one of its highest priorities. The philosophy of the No Child Left Behind Act that I signed is every child can learn, every child can achieve, and high standards must be set for schools to prove that every child is learning. We are providing research-based reading instruction in all 50 states. We are closing the achievement gap so that all children get the help they need to ensure their future success.
Progress also depends on more citizens achieving the dream of owning their own home. Today, more Americans own their own homes than ever before. Both the national homeownership and minority homeownership rates are at an all-time high, and we are aggressively acting to close the ownership gap.
We also know that progress depends on the full protection of civil rights and equality before the law and on the spirit of compassion for others. I am the first President of the United States to ban racial profiling in Federal law enforcement. And my Administration has vigorously enforced civil rights laws. To serve the cause of justice on the Federal bench, I have nominated outstanding men and women to the courts, highly qualified people of all races and backgrounds. I am also proud to have so many highly qualified men and women in my Administration, many of whom are minorities.
To ensure that our neediest communities receive the compassionate care that they need, my Administration has done more work than any other Administration to open the Federal grants process to faith-based and other community organizations. It does not make sense to block an initiative that may help neighborhoods where the only social service provider is often the church. These combined efforts are ensuring that opportunities are available to all Americans. This is good progress, and these efforts will continue to be a central focus of my Administration.
SEN. KERRY: I believe that Brown v. Board of Education summoned our country to make real the ideal of one nation and one people--a nation where one day all of God's children would live in the light of equality, a nation where, as Dr. King said later, we would be able to "transform ... into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood."
Today, more than ever, we need to renew our commitment to one America. We should not delude ourselves into thinking that time work of Brown is done when there are those who still seek, in different ways, to see it undone, to roll back affirmative action, to restrict equal rights, and to undermine the promise of our Constitution. …