“We demand equality and integration in education, affirmative action is the way. … Separate but equal is a lie, affirmative action will not die,” chanted a crowd of more than 900 people yesterday on the Diag, mainly comprised of area high school students.
Supporters of the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action and Integration and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary rallied in the cold for a National Day of Action to maintain and raise further support as the country waits for new developments in the lawsuits challenging the University’s use of race in admissions.
Education senior Agnes Aleobua encouraged the crowd to focus on working together to establish a new civil rights campaign.
“I pledge to spread this movement and to right racism, sexism and anti-gay bigotry,” Aleobua said. “Erase our oppression in this society.”
She said supporters could help by gathering signatures in support of affirmative action, participating in a future march in Washington and organizing their schools, churches, family, friends, communities and society.
The rally’s organizers passed out chants and led the crowd in songs and cheers of support for equality on all levels.
Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, said, “There must be a greater understanding about why people are standing together in defense of affirmative action.”
“We’ve always had affirmative action – look at Congress,” she said. Gandy said that white males have always shown preference to themselves, which has perpetuated a privileged class.
“It’s time for us to expand those opportunities,” Gandy said. “They don’t seem to mind those other kinds of affirmative action, like the kind that got George W. Bush into Yale. He got into Yale because his daddy went there – it’s called a legacy.”
Liana Mulholland, a tenth grade student at Cass Technical High School in Detroit and a member of her school’s BAMN chapter, was one of hundreds of high school students from local districts that attended the rally.
“Our main thing is, we can get a lot of people out to these events. We’ve never had this many people before,” she said.
Mulholland said she has attended many BAMN sponsored events, including the University Law School’s appeals court case in Cincinnati.
BAMN member Donna Stern, a parent of one of the high school students participating in the rally, said they have been reaching out to high school students and encouraging them to organize with their peers.
“BAMN is very well known at these schools. We’ve been doing presentations in all of the high schools,” she said.
Marcruz Lopez, a sophomore at Cass Tech, said BAMN representatives came to his school.
“This is a time that’s going to change the future and will prevent us from going back to segregation,” he said.
King High School sophomore Shadia Ball admitted coming to the rally excused her from her chemistry and biology classes, but she did recognize the importance of BAMN’s message.