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President Kennedy Discusses Race Relations at San Diego State College Commencement

June 6, 1963 - President Kennedy spoke out sharply today against racial segregation and education deficiencies he said were damaging the American school system and endangering the nation’s future. “We must recognize that segregation in education — and I mean de facto segregation in the North as well as the proclaimed segregation of the South — brings with it serious handicaps to a large proportion of our nation’s population,” Mr. Kennedy said in a speech at commencement exercises at San Diego State College. There are two main bars to equal educational opportunity, he said, “one economic, the other racial.” The nation, he asserted, “must move ahead quickly in both areas.” It is particularly important, he added, because “an uneducated American child makes an uneducated parent who produces, in many cases, another uneducated American child.” The President’s Western trip began to seem more and more like a political tour with his arrival in San Diego. A crowd estimated at more than 100,000 lined 10 miles of El Cajon Boulevard to see him ride past with Governor Edmund G. Brown (pictured). About 20,000 others jammed San Diego State’s stadium.


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