One America Initiative

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Initiative staff with Bill Clinton in June 1998

On June 14, 1997, U.S. President Bill Clinton announced One America in the 21st Century: The President's Initiative on Race. This initiative, established with Executive Order 13050, was a critical element in President Clinton's effort to prepare the country to embrace diversity.[clarification needed] The main thrust of the effort was convening and encouraging community dialogue throughout the country. The committee developed dialogue guidelines designed to help communities discuss how to heal racial and ethnic divisions wherever they exist.

Commencement Speech, University of California San Diego[edit]

President Clinton introduced the initiative during his commencement speech to the graduating class of the university. In the speech, he discussed his own experience growing up in the segregated south. The audience included several figures from the Civil Rights movement, including Congresspersons John Lewis, Maxine Waters, Jim Clyburn, Juanita Millender-McDonald, Patsy Mink, and Robert Filner. The Advisory Board was introduced to the audience as well.

President Clinton identified three imperatives for the initiative to focus: expanding opportunity, demanding responsibility, and creating one American community based on respect and shared values.

"I want this panel to help educate Americans about the facts surrounding issues of race, to promote a dialogue in every community of the land to confront and work through these issues, to recruit and encourage leadership at all levels to help breach racial divides, and to find, develop and recommend how to implement concrete solutions to our problems -- solutions that will involve all of us in government, business, communities, and as individual citizens." [1]


President Clinton envisioned an America based on opportunity for all, responsibility from all, and a unified community of all Americans. He was convinced that, even as America rapidly was becoming the world's first truly multi-racial democracy, race relations remained an issue that too often divided the nation and kept the American dream from being real for everyone who worked for it.

Among models of diversity in schools, One America Initiative on Race focused on Fairfax County, Virginia, one of the most culturally, linguistically diverse school districts in the country. The President's Advisory Board on Race commissioned a Case Study on a local Elementary School in Fairfax, Virginia[2] and their Report "America in the 21st Century: Forging a New Future Report"[3] quotes Linda Chavez-Thompson, about her visit to Bailey's Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences in December 1997 in her capacity as member of the Advisory Board on Race

"[I]t is absolutely delightful that the children at the elementary level don’t know what color is. . .They understand diversity...they celebrate their differences. One young student said, 'And that makes us one. We all are the same inside.' And I got that very distinctly from the curriculum, from the expression of the parents, from the expression of the teachers...I was absolutely blown away by how intense these young fourth and fifth graders were in expressing why to them there is absolutely no difference between all of them, no matter what their name is and no matter what the color of their skin.[4]

Advisory board[edit]

Judith A. Winston Served as Executive Director.


See also[edit]

External links[edit]


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