WASHINGTON -- The NAACP's chief executive said yesterday that improving blacks' economic status was the "next major civil rights crusade" and a key to ensuring that black youths receive a good education.
The Rev. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. said that black communities' economic vitality has much to do with the quality of their public schools -- and that getting a good education, in turn, helps young blacks join the economic mainstream.
Racial and economic discrimination have resulted in "second-class educational standards . . . still being imposed on African-Americans and other persons of color," he said.
Speaking on the 40th anniversa ry of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that declared segregated public schools "inherently unequal," Dr. Chavis said the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People still believes that integrated classrooms best prepare students for life in a multiracial society.
Dr. Chavis said integration must mean more than simply putting blacks in predominantly white institutions or mixing students of different races. He said true integration is a "two-way street" in which all students' cultures are appreciated and racial diversity is regarded as an asset.
Thus, the executive director of the Baltimore-based civil rights group said, it was not incompatible for the NAACP to favor integration and oppose the dismantling of historically black colleges.