The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld affirmative action. The new civil rights movement has scored a stunning victory.
The Bakke decision was roundly protected. The principle of affirmative action has been reaffirmed by this very conservative high court. This landmark case will come to be remembered as the Brown v. Board of Education of our generation – a legal turning point that helped trigger mass struggle for integration.
This victory would have been impossible if not for the 50,000-person national March on Washington on April 1, which was organized and led by the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action & Integration and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary. With this victory, we have begun to turn the tide nationally against the right-wing assault on civil rights. We will defend and expand this victory with the power of the new, militant, integrated, youth-led civil rights movement that built the April 1 March on Washington. The process of moving American society once again in the direction of integration and equality is underway.
We have saved Brown v. Board of Education and are now in a stronger position than at any point in the past thirty years to realize the promise of Brown – integration and equality in American education. This integration must be in practice, not just in rhetoric. As part of our campaign to realize the promise of Brown v. Board of Education, BAMN will be organizing an “Integration Now!” contingent for the August 23 march on Washington for “Jobs, Peace, and Freedom.” The August 23 march will be the first opportunity for a national response to the Supreme Court’s decision. We call on University students to join our contingent on August 23 to build on this historic victory and to proclaim our determination to keep fighting until full integration is the reality in American society.
The Supreme Court decision in the Grutter v. Bollinger case overturns the Hopwood and Johnson decisions from the lower courts that have re-segregated the American South. The South has now been opened for integration again! The minority outreach programs, summer bridge programs and minority scholarships that have been threatened by right-wing forces in recent months are now broadly protected.
While the court’s ruling in Grutter affirms the legality of considering race in college admissions, its decision in Gratz leaves the door open for a new set of segregationist attacks on affirmative action. BAMN pledges to remain vigilant in leading the New Civil Rights Movement to defeat any and all further attacks on affirmative action, integration and civil rights. Taken from the standpoint of having achieved victory in Grutter, a victory procured by a New Civil Rights Movement organized until now on the basis of defending gains from the past, the new movement must now go on the offensive. We will fight to realize the promise of integration written in the Brown decision almost fifty years ago, which has yet to be fulfilled in K-12 education. We will defeat Proposition 209 in California, Initiative 200 Washington and Gov. Jeb Bush’s One Florida plan.
The Supreme Court decision in the Grutter case makes clear that it is well within the law for colleges and universities to consider race in admissions to achieve an integrated student body. In light of this ruling, there is no excuse for a drop in minority enrollment in the college of Literature, Science and the Arts. The University administration must do whatever is necessary to maintain and increase the number of underrepresented minority students. One way to achieve this is to hire more admissions officers in order to read the applications to LSA – treating each application individually while taking race into account. The full commitment of the University to integration will serve as an example to other colleges and universities around the country.
Aleobua is a former Michigan Student Assembly representative from the Defend Affirmative Action Party and Stenvig is a BAMN organizer.