Restoring Affirmative Action in California
Shian Brandolino (right), BAMN student organizer at King/Drew Medical Magnet High School in Los Angeles is leading up the efforts at her school to get students to attend the November 2nd Day of Action at UCLA.
Shian said, “We need to send a message across the state that we won’t accept second-class, ‘back of the bus’ education any longer. So far, there are more than 200 students at King/Drew who want to go to UCLA for the Day of Action. Our teachers want us to participate but the administration says there is no money for buses. We need financial help so that we can make November 2nd a huge success and send the New Jim Crow packing.”
Students at LA’s Roosevelt, Mendez, Fremont and Westchester High Schools are also mobilizing for the Day of Action, so that they can voice their demand for equal educational opportunity. They are fundraising to pay for buses to transport them to UCLA, where the event will take place.
For 15 years now, the ban on affirmative action in California has had a devastating effect on number of Latino/a, black and Native American students at the state’s flagship educational institutions. Today, even as the percentage of high school graduates who are underrepresented minorities continues to rise far past 50% in California, enrollment of Latina/o, black and Native American students across the UC has failed to keep pace and has declined precipitously at UC Berkeley and UCLA. Of the 3,960 freshman entering UC Berkeley this fall only 139 are black students; at UCLA there are 4,921 incoming freshman of which 209 are black students.
BAMN, along with dozens of California students of all races, with and without papers, have filed suit in federal court against Prop 209 asserting that California’s ban on affirmative action violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. To win, we need a broad, united public campaign in support of our legal challenges. The November 2nd Day of Action is the first of several events to build the political momentum that is needed to win.
Overturning the ban on Affirmative Action
Overturning the ban is vital to defeating the rise of the new Jim Crow and the perpetuation of white privilege. A victory in California would be a victory for the nation. It would provide a much needed fatal body blow against the whole right-wing national effort to eliminate affirmative action and equal access and opportunity. Fighting to restore affirmative action is key to the whole student-led struggle to defend public education. The fight to overturn Prop 209 has the power to unite Latina/o, immigrant, black, Asian-Pacific American, Native American, other minority and progressive white students in a common fight for our shared futures.
BAMN has had years of experience defeating Ward Connerly and the other opponents of affirmative action, even when others said the fight was hopeless. BAMN’s organizing and legal efforts saved both the Los Angeles and Berkeley school district’s desegregation programs. Our efforts defeated anti- affirmative action ballot campaigns in Arizona, Oklahoma, Missouri and other states. In 2003, BAMN initiated and the NAACP, the UAW and others joined in organizing a demonstration of 50,000 young people outside the U.S. Supreme Court on the day that Grutter v. Bollinger, the University of Michigan affirmative action case, was argued. We won Grutter because of that mobilization.
Join us in the fight to open up the University of California to all Californians and to make our state the model of diversity, integration, equality and freedom we want it to be.
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