The Leadership Conference is working diligently to see that Tom Perez is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Perez is an eminently qualified public servant and consensus builder who has dedicated his career to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and have the opportunity to succeed. He has served with integrity and distinction at the local, state and national level, compiling an outstanding record of achievement.
Training Teaches Students Key Aspects of Organizing for Affirmative Action
Feature Story by civilrights.org staff - 8/7/2003Students representing colleges and universities nationwide came together this summer to learn leadership tactics for promoting affirmative action and civil rights.
Sponsored by the United States Student Association, the Grassroots Organizing Workshop (GROW) took place at University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus.
Several notable community leaders headlined the workshop, including Ellen Buchman, director of field operations for the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR). Buchman moderated a panel on the legal ramifications of the Grutter Supreme Court decision, which deemed affirmative action legal in the United States, and the Gratz Supreme Court decision, which deemed point systems illegal in affirmative action policies.
Included on the panel were Ted Shaw, associate counsel for the NAACP-Legal Defense Fund, and Marisa Demeo, Washington D.C. regional counsel for the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund.
Shaw discussed the future of affirmative action by first presenting a historical perspective recounting his own work during the past 25 years, from his presence in the courtroom when the Bakke ruling was handed down, to his role in redrafting the very University of Michigan Law School admissions policy that was upheld in Grutter.
He also emphasized the role that student activists play in achieving wide-reaching change.
"Courts are necessary and crucial points of struggle, but inherently conservative and reactionary," Shaw said. "Lawyers do their part, but we won't win without political organizing and grassroots struggle."
Demeo echoed his comments, pointing out that while in states such as Washington, statutes must be changed by the legislature, in states such as Florida, students can effectively approach university regulatory bodies and urge change.
Also at the workshop was a Children's Defense Fund training session on media and public relations strategies for campus activists, lead by Toby Chaudhuri.
GROW represents an ongoing effort by the progressive community to promote student activism. Earlier this summer, LCCR held a student convening in Washington D.C. that drew student leaders and activists together to participate in media trainings, forum discussions, and caucuses about how to be more effective leaders in the ongoing fight for attaining equal opportunity in higher education.