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June 28, 2017

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Obama marks anniversary of pivotal desegregation ruling

WASHINGTON--U.S. President Barack Obama marked the 60-year anniversary of a landmark ruling that ordered the desegregation of U.S. schools Friday, citing a "long struggle to stamp out bigotry and racism."

On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court handed down a decision that declared separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional and ordered their integration.

"As we commemorate this historic anniversary, we recommit ourselves to the long struggle to stamp out bigotry and racism in all their forms," Obama said in a statement.

"We reaffirm our belief that all children deserve an education worthy of their promise."

Obama, the first African American in the White House, said the change was neither immediate nor complete.

"We remember that change did not come overnight — that it took many years and a nationwide movement to fully realize the dream of civil rights for all of God's children," he said.

"We will never forget the men, women and children who took extraordinary risks in order to make our country more fair and more free.

"Today, it falls on us to honor their legacy by taking our place in their march, and doing our part to perfect the union we love."

Attorney General Eric Holder urged action to "eradicate the existence of still too persistent inequalities" and pledged to do his part.

Holder, who is also African American, cited nearly 200 desegregation cases where "school districts have have not yet fulfilled their legal obligation to eliminate segregation 'root and branch.'"

"So long as I have the privilege of serving as attorney general of the United States, this Justice Department will never stop working to expand the promise of a nation where everyone has the same opportunity to grow, to contribute and to succeed," he promised.

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