DAY OF ACTION: Overturn Prop 209 and Restore Affirmative Action!
Thursday, November 3rd
10am – Forum: Affirmative Action 101 – First Congregational Church of Berkeley (2345 Channing Way, 1 block west of Telegraph)
12pm – RALLY at Sproul Plaza (UCB), March at 1pm
7pm – Legal Challenge to Prop 209 Open House – MLK Student Union (Tan Oak Room)
- Increase Latina/o, Black, Native American and Other Underrepresented Minority Student Enrollment!
- Defend Public Education!
- Build the New, Integrated, Student-led Civil Rights/Immigrant Rights Movement to Win Equality, Justice, and Democracy for All!
- Say No to the New Jim Crow!
BAMN (the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary), and dozens of California students of all races, with and without papers, have filed a federal lawsuit to overturn California’s anti-affirmative action Constitutional amendment known as Proposition 209. Since the passage of Prop 209 in 1996, the numbers of Latina/o, black, Native American and other underrepresented minority students attending UC’s flagship universities have declined precipitously. Of the 3,960 freshmen/women entering UC Berkeley this fall only 139 are black students; at UCLA there are 4,921 incoming freshmen/ women of which 209 are black students.
To persuade the courts to rule in our favor, we need a broad, united public campaign in support of our legal challenges. We are calling on students at UC Berkeley to become a part of this campaign on our campus and across the state to overturn Prop 209. Virtually every national civil rights organization and several unions, immigrant rights, and labor organizations have already pledged support for the BAMN effort.
The ban on affirmative action has denied California’s Latina/o, black, Native American and other underrepresented minority students equal access to the UC’s, deepening the inequalities created by segregation in K-12 education. Overturning the ban is vital to defeating the rise of the new Jim Crow and the perpetuation of white privilege. The UC’s set the tone for the nation. 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. It is essential to the fight to maintain intellectual freedom at every public university. The fight 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.
Independent, Integrated Student-led Mass Action Is the Key to Victory—CA Dream Act Is Won!
The student and youth leaders and activists of the young but powerful civil and immigrant rights movement have won a momentous victory: the California Dream Act (AB131), which opens up state-funded financial aid to undocumented students, was signed by Governor Brown.
The movement owes a great debt to the scores of undocumented students who refuse to be invisible and marched, rallied, walked out, and spoke out in the face of continuous police and ICE harassment and threats.
Winning this hard fought gain is a testament to what the new student-led civil rights and immigrant rights movement can achieve when we organize and build mass actions on an independent basis. Winning the Dream Act can inspire our new movement to take the next steps to advance our struggle to open wide the doors of opportunity and equality at UC Berkeley, UCLA, and other public universities. Our new movement must ignore all those who urge us to shut down our movement when we win the Dream Act in order to plow all our energy into electoral politics. Instead, we must utilize the high spirits and rising expectations of Latina/o, black, documented and undocumented immigrant, Asian Pacific American and other college and high school and middle school students to build the new movement and to win.
Governor Brown also vetoed SB185, a bill which urged every university in California to use every legal means available to them to increase underrepresented minority enrollment. In his veto message Brown stated that he supports affirmative action, but that the outcome of BAMN’s lawsuit will ultimately decide the outcome of any policies that attempt to increase underrepresented minority student enrollment. BAMN invites everyone who worked so hard for SB185 to support our lawsuit against Prop 209. We demand that the UC Regents and the Chancellors publicly oppose Prop 209 and take immediate action to increase the number of Latina/o, black, Native American and other underrepresented students. That way the public universities will have more legal standing to increase under-represented student right now.
We know we can win the battle to overturn Prop 209 through the courts. Putting an anti-Prop 209 ballot initiative forward would be dangerous, massively expensive and almost certainly lose. Even if it won we would find ourselves back in court fighting out how to interpret conflicting Constitutional amendments.
On July 1st, 2011, in a separate case initiated by BAMN, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Michigan’s Proposal 2, a carbon copy of California’s Prop 209, because it violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution. Then, on July 8th, California Governor Jerry Brown filed a brief in the Ninth Circuit supporting BAMN’s claim that Proposition 209 violates the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution.
The Sixth Circuit Court as a whole is now set to review the panel decision in the Michigan case next spring. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will be considering our California challenge in the next six months. Either or both cases will almost certainly end up at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. In every court, at each step, the decision will be close. Whether we end in victory or defeat will be determined by the ability of our new movement to mobilize the tremendous popular support we have in order to shift the balance of power in favor of the oppressed.
BAMN has had years of experience defeating Ward Connerly and the other opponents of affirmative action, even when others said our fight was hopeless and we would lose. 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.