August 28, 2023
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Commemorates 60th Anniversary of MLK Jr.’s Iconic “I Have a Dream” Speech, Condemns Recent Racist Attack in Florida
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today commemorated the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which was delivered 60 years ago on August 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Superintendent Thurmond did this as he condemned the recent racist attack in Florida and noted the importance of Dr. King’s legacy by committing to the ideals of equality and social justice.
“Martin Luther King Jr.'s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech was delivered 60 years ago today at the Lincoln Memorial—a message of hope, justice, and equality for all humanity. His impassioned words not only stirred the hearts of those present but also ignited a transformative movement that challenged the deeply ingrained prejudices of society and began the quest for civil rights,” Thurmond said. “Recent events, such as the horrific racist attack in Florida, serve as stark reminders that this fight against prejudice and discrimination is far from over. These acts of hatred highlight the urgent need for vigilance and action to create a just and inclusive society. Education plays a vital role in this transformation. The California Department of Education (CDE) has a variety of resources for schools, such as antibias grants, that can help combat injustice and inequality and promote a world where every student’s inherent worth is recognized and celebrated.”
Thurmond has partnered with the National Equity Project to help implement the $20 million Antibias Education Grant Program provided through allocations in the 2021 and 2022 California state budgets. The last round of applications for the grants closed last month, and you can read more about the program on the CDE Antibias Education Grant web page. To learn more about the Education to End Hate Initiative, please see this CDE news release.
The CDE and Thurmond have made inclusive education a priority against a backdrop of culture wars being waged by states and some California school districts. Last week, Thurmond hosted the Education to End Hate: Countering Antisemitism virtual roundtable—the first time a State Superintendent convened a session like this on antisemitism—and he was joined by faith and community leaders. Thurmond put out a call to districts for any allegations of antisemitic discrimination or violence to be reported directly to the CDE.
Earlier this month, Thurmond hosted two ethnic studies webinars. The first webinar, “Train the Trainer,” focused on using the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, and 265 participants received certification following their participation. Thurmond is encouraging local educational agencies to work with certification recipients as they develop local ethnic studies curriculum. The second webinar was designed to help local educational agencies provide an ethnic studies graduation requirement by the 2026 state deadline. This graduation requirement is the result of Assembly Bill (AB) 101, which was authored by former Assemblymember Jose Medina and sponsored by Thurmond.
Thurmond helped write and is sponsoring AB 1078 (Jackson), which would impose a fine on any district that bans a book, especially in an attempt to discriminate against students of color or LGBTQ+ students. Although the bill is being heard in the California State Legislature, the framework outlined in the bill was recently used to block the Temecula Valley Unified School District’s efforts to essentially ban a new curriculum for referencing LGBTQ icon Harvey Milk.
Thurmond also recently launched a Task Force on Inclusive Education that is working with textbook publishers to diversify the content that students see in instructional materials. Thurmond is also sponsoring Senate Bill 760, All-Gender Restrooms (Newman), which requires all K–12 schools in California to provide appropriate and equitable access to all-gender restrooms for students to use during school hours, and AB 5, the Safe and Supportive Schools Act (Zbur), which requires all K–12 schools in California to provide training to support LGBTQ+ pupils. Thurmond and the CDE hosted a ceremony on June 1, 2023, that marked the first time the Progress Pride Flag was raised above the CDE in honor of Pride Month.
More information on CDE grants and supports for schools is available on the CDE Transforming Schools: Superintendent’s Initiatives web page.
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Tony Thurmond —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100