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Thinking Big by Nathaniel Loewentheil, James Lardner

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9 The Promise of Opportunity

Alan Jenkins

OPPORTUNITY is one of America’s most deeply held values and one of our most precious national assets. Throughout our history, Americans have been stirred by the vision of a society in which everyone gets a fair shake regardless of origins or ancestry. That ideal has inspired social movements and political breakthroughs. Universal public education developed our national genius and propelled millions out of poverty. Emancipation, Reconstruction, and women’s suffrage acknowledged the equality and voice of all our people.

In the twentieth century, the New Deal’s assurance of basic economic security put the nation back on stable economic footing even as it enabled millions of Americans to move from ...

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