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friday, august 29, 2014 7:09 pm zst

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Following in the footsteps of the American Civil Rights Movement

The European Roma Rights Center is studying how the civil rights movement in the States used the court system to bring about social change and they're using the same tactics to stop segregation in Czech schools and to seek equal access to education and opportunities for Roma children. It's going to be a hard struggle for the Roma community because up until now they haven't been well organized or represented; what makes it even more difficult is having to deal with this kind of attitude from teachers and principals:

Jiri Smelik has been principal at a regular primary school here for 13 years. The names on his enrollment roster are indicative of the changes in the neighborhood. In his early days, 8% of his students were Roma; today, 70% are.

"I don't want to sound racist," he said, sitting in his office at the end of a day, brooms and rakes scraping the sidewalk outside. "But I don't believe people are always equal. I'm sorry to say it, but the Roma in general are less intelligent."

He let his statement linger; he didn't retract it.

Posted by zorkmidden on Jun 23, 2006 1:00 pm

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