Diversity, Progress will Suffer with Passage of Michigan Anti-Affirmative Action Proposal

Despite passage of Michigan's Proposal 2, NAACP leaders stand resolute with their partners to battle against anti-affirmative legislation, wherever it arises. Michigan's Proposal 2, approved by that state's voters yesterday, will lead to the dismantling of affirmative action in education, employment and other state level programs, the Association asserts.

"It goes without saying that we are disappointed," said NAACP President & CEO Bruce S. Gordon. "This is a setback. It is clear that we have work to do to convince our fellow citizens that affirmative action has made us stronger as a nation and still has a role to play."

The Michigan measure and other efforts are primarily organized by the American Civil Rights Initiative, which ironically works to defeat affirmative action in state level campaigns. The NAACP will challenge that group and its supporters wherever they launch campaigns.

Proposal 2 will ban public institutions including state and local governments, public colleges and universities from considering race, gender and ethnicity or national origin for public employment, education or contracting purposes.

In Michigan, implementation of Proposal 2 will also mean the loss of financial aid funds to provide scholarships that consider race, gender, national origin, ethnicity or color. Many colleges and universities use such funds to attract a diverse student body and underrepresented students.

The NAACP firmly supports the use of affirmative action policies and practices by states to ensure equal opportunity access for minorities and women. "It is critical that all citizens understand the role affirmative action plays in the creation of a diverse education and business work force," Gordon adds.

In California, Washington and Texas, the elimination of affirmative action programs has had a devastating impact. The 2000 entering class at UCLA's Law School was only 1.4 percent black, compared to 10.3 percent prior to the state's 1996 ban on affirmative action. The number of women faculty has decreased 22 percent throughout the University of California system since the take-away of affirmative action. In Washington State, according to The Seattle Times, four years after its I-200 initiative passed, the share of Seattle public works contracts awarded to minority- or women-owned firms decreased by more than 25 percent. At the University of Texas Law School, Latino student enrollment has been cut in half since affirmative action programs were outlawed in 1995.

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