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Detroit Branch NAACP : America Gets the Victory - Affirmative Action Lives On

June 23, 2003

Today, the United States Supreme Court in a 5/4 decision upheld the University of Michigan Law School's admissions policy giving universities permission to continue affirmative action programs. According to Reverend Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit Branch NAACP , "This is a great victory for all of those who believe that America's greatness lies in her diversity as a nation. This decision could not have come without the tremendous outcry of the students of U of M and other universities around the country, the thousands of Michiganders who joined with us in the 'March on Washington,' the attorneys who worked (pro-bono in many cases) to help shape the opinion of the Court on this issue and the many prayers that were extended to protect our educational freedom. For many generations, only a select few and those born of privilege have been able to have full access to universities and professional schools throughout our nation." There is however, "a compelling interest in attaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body." These are the words of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and we fully agree. Many will suggest that this decision has been split. However, we do not agree. The consideration of race is a legal legitimate factor in every university's admissions policy throughout our nation.

While the U.S. Supreme Court voted against the undergraduate policy in providing, through its current process admissions for under-represented minorities, this too, is fixable. The Supreme Court did not strike down the ability of the university to use race as a factor in its admissions policies. However, the policy must be restructured to achieve the compelling interest in diversity similar to the law school's admissions policy. While this decision is a local (University of Michigan) victory, it truly is a victory for America. It goes against the notion asserted by President George W. Bush who used the occasion of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday (January 15, 2003) to call the University of Michigan's admissions policy a quota program. It pulls the cover off the deceit and the falsity of those who assert this notion.

There is still much work to be done in the area of affirmative action and equal opportunity. Affirmative action really does not guarantee those who participate in its program success. It is simply a window that provides an opportunity for access that would otherwise be closed. The University of Michigan still has intact special programs that consider social, economic status, athletic ability, music ability, provost discretion for admissions, heritage of applying students and the "good ole boy" network, that has never worked for minority applicants. This decision also springboards an opportunity for states like Florida, Texas and California who have reversed affirmative action and equal opportunity to go back and re-shape their policies. The Supreme Court has also cleared the way for other states who are contemplating reversing affirmative action to stay the course.

It is important that America stays the course, in terms of equal opportunity for all of her citizens. This ruling also provides new energy as we celebrate here in the city of Detroit the 40th commemorative march honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on Saturday, June 28, 2003, with our march down Woodward Avenue. It brings to life the struggle that was waged generations ago. It further suggests that Dr. King was correct when he uttered the words, "if you start a man off in the race of life 300 years behind, he will not be able to catch up in 30 years. Therefore, you will have to have some special program, in order to equalize his opportunity." We have not yet reached in our nation the time when we are yet prepared to judge people by the "content of their character rather than the color of their skin." Until we have assumed that most desired position, we say long live affirmative action !

Detroit Branch NAACP

CONTACT: Reverend Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit Branch NAACP
+1-313-538-8695

Web site: http://www.detroitnaacp.org/

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