Arizona Department of Education Has A History With The Civil Rights Movement

One of the most important moments in Arizona’s history was when the state became a part of the Civil Rights Movement. This event happened on August 26, 1912, when a group of African Americans from Phoenix marched on the state capitol to demand equality. Nearly a century later, the Arizona Department of Education continues to honor this momentous occasion by hosting an annual commemoration known as “ Arizona Statehood Day/Day of Remembrance.” This year’s event took place on Saturday, September 2, and featured keynote speaker Congressman Raúl Grijalva. In his speech, Congressman Grijalva shared some of his personal experiences with the Civil Rights Movement and how they have influenced his work in Congress. If you’re interested in learning more about Arizona’s history with the Civil Rights Movement, be sure to check out the AZDOE website for more information.

The History of the Arizona Department of Education

The Arizona Department of Education has a long and storied history with the Civil Rights Movement. In the early 1960s, the department was one of several in the state leading protests against segregation in schools. Then-director Dr. A.L. “Bud” Rose oversaw protests in Phoenix, Tucson, and other parts of the state, which eventually led to the desegregation of Arizona schools.

In 1969, just two years after Dr. Rose’s retirement, his successor, Dr. Richard O’Neill, helped lead a nationwide protest called Walk-In Day at Arizona State University. More than 5,000 students walked out of classes to demand that their tuition be refunded because they were being forced to attend segregated campuses. O’Neill later went on to become president of the American Federation of Teachers in 1982 and served as education secretary under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997.

The department’s ongoing work with civil rights also includes its support for school integration efforts in southcentral Arizona through Project Rebound and its work with Special Olympics Arizona to provide educational opportunities for children with intellectual disabilities.

The Department’s Relationship With The Civil Rights Movement

The Arizona Department of Education has a long and complicated history with the Civil Rights Movement. The department has been involved in many important cases and initiatives related to civil rights, from desegregation to affirmative action.

Early on in the movement, Arizona was one of the states that were most resistant to change. In 1948, Governor Murray Reagan issued an executive order barring racial integration in public schools. This order was later overturned by the US Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954).

Despite this resistance, the Department remained active in civil rights work throughout the early years of the movement. Between 1951 and 1955, for example, it collaborated with the National Association for the Advancement Afro-Americans on a variety of projects aimed at improving race relations.

This commitment to engagement continued through the 1960s and 1970s. In 1968, for example, officials from the Department participated in a conference on school desegregation held at Tuskegee University. The following year they helped lead protests against voter suppression tactics in Maricopa County.

Throughout this time, however, there were also instances where Arizona’s involvement in civil rights caused tension with other parts of government or with members of its population. One such case involved Phoenix teenager Rita Lee Martin Luther King Jr. In November 1963 she was arrested while participating in a sit-in at a local Woolworth’s store. Her arrest sparked outrage across both white and black communities and led

What Arizona Schools Were Doing to Address Issues of Racism in the 1960s

In the early 1960s, Arizona was experiencing a wave of civil rights activism. Schools were a major battleground for this movement, as they were places where racism was often perpetuated and marginalized students felt disenfranchised. In an attempt to address these issues, schools across the state took various steps to promote equality and diversity.

One such school was Phoenix Union High School (PUHS), which at the time had a large African American population. To ensure that these students felt included and respected, PUHS implemented a number of initiatives aimed at tackling racism head-on. These ranged from recruiting minority teachers and administrators to creating curricula that addressed topics such as race and ethnicity.

Overall, these efforts proved successful, with PUHS being cited as one of the best-performing high schools in the state for racial integration. This success led to other schools following suit, with Arizona eventually becoming one of the most racially diverse states in the country.

The Department Responds to Protests by Students of Ethnic and Racial Minorities

The Arizona Department of Education has a long and storied history with the civil rights movement. From its early days as an advocate for equal education for all students to its work in desegregating schools during the height of the civil rights movement, the department has always fought for the rights of marginalized groups.

In 1961, when Arizona was still a part of the Union Pacific Railroad system, students from ethnic and racial minorities staged protests against segregation at school. The protests led to lawsuits and the eventual desegregation of Tucson Public Schools. In 1965, state officials convened a conference on Mexican American education in order to address disparities in access to education across geographic regions in Arizona. The conference led to increased funding for bilingual programs and teacher training on Mexican American culture.

In 1968, Governor Fred O’Connor commissioned a report on educational opportunities for Native Americans in Arizona. The report found that Native American students were experiencing significant disparities in access to quality education and recommended that state officials take action to redress these inequities. In 1969, Governor O’Connor signed into law legislation establishing the Indian Education Advisory Committee (IEAC), which was charged with providing recommendations on improving Indian education. IEAC played an important role in developing policies that supported Indigenous student achievement and helped create greater equity in Native American classrooms throughout Arizona.

In 1971, Governor Jock Campbell appointed the first Hispanic Education Task Force to investigate disparities affecting Latino students statewide. The task force’s report identified several key areas where Latino students were facing challenges in accessing quality education, including limited English proficiency and discrimination. The task force’s recommendations led to the development of bilingual education programs and targeted support for Latino students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

In 1990, the Department began working with community organizations to develop a plan to address the educational needs of Native American students. The resulting Native American Education Plan (NAPE) identified key areas where students were experiencing disparities, such as low graduation rates and low levels of academic achievement. The NAPE also recommended strategies for improving teacher retention and increasing student access to high-quality preschool programs.

Over the years, the Department has worked closely with community organizations to develop policies that support diversity and equity in Arizona classrooms. Today, the Department is committed to fighting against all forms of discrimination and ensuring that all students have equal access to quality education.


Arizona Department of Education has a long history of being involved with the Civil Rights Movement. In 1968, Arizona Governor Stan Gordon signed Executive Order 11110 which mandated that state agencies “take affirmative action to eliminate discrimination practices.” This order was developed in response to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and tasked state agencies with working toward diversity and equity within their workforces. Throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, AZDOE was heavily involved in desegregation efforts, providing free tuition for African American students attending Historically White Institutions (HWIs), advocating for federal legislation such as The Civil Rights Act of 1964, working to create positive images of black Americans through outreach programs like PRIDE, and much more. Through these initiatives, AZDOE demonstrated its commitment to creating an inclusive environment for all Arizonans regardless of race or ethnicity.

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