At Sharpton Event, Obama Calls Education Top Civil Rights Issue

Wednesday, Apr 6, 2011  |  Updated 10:01 PM EDT
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AP

President Barack Obama is greeted by Rev. Al Sharpton before speaking at the National Action Network's Keepers of Dream Awards Gala in New York, Wednesday, April 6, 2011.

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The Rev Al Sharpton is marking the 20th anniversary of his Harlem based organization by teaming up with President Barack Obama and his top officials to grapple with issues affecting black Americans.
       
The president spoke Wednesday evening at the annual conference of Sharpton's National Action Network. Cabinet members spoke earlier at the Manhattan event.

Obama told the group that his administration has more work to do to create opportunities for all Americans and close gaps in education and employment rates between different groups.  He called the equalizing of education the "civil rights issue of our time."
       
The president said Americans of all types are struggling to make good. But he also said the black community faces higher unemployment than other groups. And he said the poorest in society had to sacrifice the most during the recession.
      
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said he'll work with Sharpton's grass-roots groups to alleviate teen violence in black neighborhoods, especially violence involving guns.
       
Shaun Donovan, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, said he's teaming up with Sharpton to help black homeowners facing foreclosure.
       
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said he's been traveling with Sharpton around the country to black neighborhoods with the highest school dropout rates.

This is the second time in a week that President Obama has been in New York City.  Last week he attended a fundraiser at the Red Rooster restaurant and helped dedicate a federal building named after Democratic trailblazer Ron Brown.

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