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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS -- (Senate - May 21, 2007)

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Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I rise today in strong support of a bill that directs the Treasury Department to mint 350,000 $1 coins marking the semi-centennial of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 greatly expanded civil rights protections by outlawing racial discrimination and segregation in public places and places of public accommodation, in federally funded programs and employment, and encouraging desegregation in public schools, and has served as a model for subsequent antidiscrimination laws.

This landmark legislation once implemented, had effects that were far reaching and that, clearly from its inception to today, fundamentally changed the course of our Nation.

Equality and access to education were two of the hallmarks of the civil rights movement.

The United Negro College Fund, UNCF, is the Nation's largest, oldest, most successful and comprehensive minority higher education assistance organization. UNCF provides operating funds and technology enhancement services for 39 member historically black colleges and universities, HBCUs, scholarships and internships for students at about 900 institutions and faculty and administrative professional training.

Since its inception in 1943, the UNCF has raised more than $2 billion to help a total of more than 350,000 students attend college and has distributed more funds to help minorities attend school than any entity outside of the government.

Besides being a noble tribute, this commemorative coin will assist the UNCF provide scholarships and internships for minority students and assist with technology enhancement services for historically black colleges and universities.

In Michigan, the on-time graduation rate for African American students is less than half that of the overall rate for high school students. Moreover, the percentage of Michigan high school freshmen enrolling in college within 4 years is just 38 percent, the rate for the top States is 53 percent. These statistics are astounding. Michigan currently is working to invest more State dollars into improving high school education and reforming graduation requirements to some of the most rigorous in the Nation. If we make scholarships like this one available to students, and organizations like the UNCF helping African Americans get into colleges and stay in colleges, not just historically black colleges and universities, these statistics will improve. I am confident this coin bill is a step toward improving the state of college attendance and graduation rates for African American students.

I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.

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