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May 17, 2004

Alia Faraj
(850) 488-5394

Frances Marine or
MacKay Jimeson
(850) 245-0413

Governor Bush Commemorates 50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education Decision
Governor welcomes back bus carrying historic African American artifacts from statewide tour

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush today honored the historic Supreme Court decision on the 50th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, which desegregated schools and forever changed race relations around the nation. The Governor also welcomed back the bus carrying an exhibit commemorating the contributions of African American leaders in Florida's education history from a statewide tour that visited 18 cities throughout Florida. Governor Bush was joined at today's commemoration ceremony by Education Commissioner Jim Horne, Colleges and Universities Chancellor Debra Austin and City of Tallahassee Mayor John Marks.

"The anniversary of the Brown v. Board decision should remind us to embrace the value of diversity and reflect on the progress made in education during the past half-century," Governor Bush said. "One of Florida's greatest treasures is the diversity of its people. We have worked hard to achieve equality in education for all students in this state and we are seeing the greatest learning gains among minority students, further closing the achievement gap. We must maintain our commitment to ensuring every child is learning, forcing the gap to disappear."

Governor Bush pledged, during his State of the State address, to have a bus travel around the state educating children and communities on the accomplishments in education made by Florida's African American community. The traveling exhibit highlights displays of Florida's heritage, including pictures, sculptures, and artifacts, which were unveiled at the Florida Department of Education in coordination with the Governor's Black History Month celebrations this year.

"Brown vs. Board of Education is one of the most important and significant Supreme Court rulings in America's history," said Tallahassee Mayor John Marks. "It was the catalyst for change and equality not only in America's schools but in the greater American society as well. For this reason I am honored to be a part of today's praiseworthy event."

"This is a special anniversary marking opportunity and equality for all students," Commissioner Horne said. "Florida is working hard to ensure all students are given the resources and tools they need for a quality education. Thanks to Governor Bush, Florida children who have never had educational options now have opportunities to find a curriculum that best meets their learning needs."

Contributors to the exhibit include Florida A&M University Black Archives, the University of Central Florida, the Department of State, the State Museum of Florida and numerous school districts. Partners include the Central Florida African American Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Orlando Airport Authority, who provided the bus.

"Since this landmark decision 50 years ago, Florida has seen more minorities using new opportunities being provided to them to their advantage," Chancellor Austin said. "Since 1999, minority enrollment in our state's universities has increased because our students are simply better prepared."

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