National Day of Action to Defend Affirmative Action and Integration
University Of Michigan - Diag
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Save Brown v. Board of Education ?
Build the New Civil Rights Movement
Organize the March to the US Supreme Court
On May 14, 2002 the federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio ruled to uphold the affirmative action program at the University of Michigan Law School. This stunning victory for affirmative action in Grutter v. Bollinger marks a turning point in the fight for integration and equality in America.
This victory proves that through mass mobilization it was possible to do what most civil rights leaders, political pundits and court-watchers said was impossible. We organized, we fought and WE WON!!
All of our collective effort so far has paid off. Thousands of people across the country have participated in the new civil rights movement in various ways, from signing a petition, to making a financial contribution, to attending the district court trial in Detroit to marching in a cold, drenching rain through the gray streets of Cincinnati at the appeals hearing on December 6, 2001.
The fact of our victory must galvanize our collective determination and the narrow margin of our victory (a 5-4 decision) must serve as an alarm. We must summon new energy and new forces to the fight!
Now the CRITICAL BATTLE lies ahead. The future of this nation hangs in the balance ? its progress, democracy, integration, all civil rights and civil liberties will be determined by the outcome of this historic fight. The outcome of the Grutter case will either open up a new fight for integration and equality in American education?the simple promise of Brown v. Board of Education?or it will kill Brown for all practical purposes.
Now affirmative action must be defended before the US SUPREME COURT in Washington DC. It is a very conservative body. We cannot win at the U.S. Supreme Court unless we mobilize tens of thousands of people to march on Washington when Grutter v. Bollinger is heard. No defender of affirmative action can have any illusions that this elite, conservative organization will act for integration and equality unless they feel compelled to do so. (There is no hearing date set at this point. The court may make the announcement this winter for a hearing date possibly as early as the winter or spring 2003.)
Our victory in Cincinnati teaches us how to win
Beyond its own intrinsic importance, the victory in the UM Law School case provides a very important lesson in how to win the coming battle at the US Supreme Court. We must organize and mobilize the people of this country who stand for integration and equality. A strong litigation strategy is necessary but not sufficient of itself. Mass social struggle is the key. Just as litigation alone could not have dismantled Jim Crow and won affirmative action in the 1960s, litigation alone now cannot successfully defend affirmative action from the rightwing attack.
We have a pattern and a framework for victory. The only question is, can we together mobilize the sentiment and the forces in action that can move our society forward and keep it from crashing backward. Our collective task now is to prepare the new civil rights movement for this next step.
All of us who have played a role so far should feel deep pride at our accomplishment. We banded together and our determined effort won the day. History is calling on all of us again, this time louder and more insistently. Our first victory must not have been in vain.
We are fighting to save Brown v. Board of Education
By this case the fate of affirmative action will be determined, and with it, every integration program of any kind, every policy aimed at offsetting the institutional inequalities that shape and deform life and opportunity in America. Whether Brown v. Board of Education itself is to be overturned for practical purposes?all this hangs in the balance.
The first year after affirmative action was banned by the Fifth Circuit Court in the Hopwood case, black enrollment dropped more than 90% and Mexican-American enrollment dropped just short of 60% at the University of Texas School of Law. Now, despite one of the most ambitious outreach and recruitment programs ever launched for minority students in higher education, the incoming class for the fall 2002 is only 7.5% Mexican-American and 3% black. This is in the state of Texas which now has a 42% minority population!
Over the last few years a concerted, largely successful and overwhelmingly unopposed assault has taken place on integration plans in K-12 education across the country. From Charlotte to Boston to Seattle, voluntary K-12 desegregation plans have been eliminated by the judiciary despite broad public support by people of all races. Court-ordered desegregation plans have been eliminated despite clear and undisputed evidence of ongoing segregation.
The outcome of this case will determine whether any desegregation program of any kind is banned by law. It will determine whether any positive measure of any kind that attempts to offset the fundamental social inequalities of race and sex will be legal?but it will also do much more than that. The outcome of Grutter will set the context for the social and political development of our whole society just as each key US Supreme Court decision concerning race, racism and segregation has in the past. For example, Dred Scott in 1857, Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, and Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.
The outcome of this case will be the scale in which questions of social policy and justice are weighed for the foreseeable future. In form, the decision of the court will be legal but the content of the decision will be political and social. If we lose, it will be a setback of historic proportions. Contrarily, if we succeed in defending affirmative action at the US Supreme Court, we will have an opportunity to align our society with its aspiration and self-image of being a society that holds integration and equality of opportunity in high esteem. This will be no small task, but if we win at the US Supreme Court, it will open up avenues for progress that we can see only vaguely now.
We have a plan and we need your help
BAMN, and United for Equality and Affirmative Action (UEAA is the umbrella organization of student intervenors in Grutter v. Bollinger) are determined to win this fight. We see its ramifications and our consciousness of the magnitude of those ramifications makes us utterly determined to organize the march to the US Supreme Court. Many thousands of people of all races around the country share this determination. Together, we will build this march. We will do so irrespective of what any other organization decides. However, to succeed at the US Supreme Court we will almost certainly need to mobilize more forces than any one or two organizations can mobilize on their own.
All civil rights organizations must be united in this fight. Most civil rights organizations have done too little to defend affirmative action. It is going to take a new, grassroots, independent, mass civil rights movement to unite all the existing civil rights organizations in a single effective struggle to defend the gains of Brown v. Board of Education in American history.
* Get involved in the movement *
Sign and Circulate the PLEDGE & CALL(http://www.bamn.com/pledge.htm) to be present when the US Supreme Court hears the University of Michigan Law School affirmative action case. Join the campaign for the March to the US Supreme Court.
Sign and Circulate the PETITION
(http://www.bamn.com/supreme-court.htm)to the US Supreme Court. Get it at bamn.com. We are aiming to have 1,000,000 petition signatures to present to the court when the case gets heard. We want the court to feel the vast support that exists for affirmative action, integration and equality around the country.
Participate in the march & rally for the National Day of Action on October 30, 2002 at the University of Michigan.
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