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.
Michigan Students Warn of Dangers of Anti-Affirmative Action Ballot Initiative
Feature Story by Tyler Lewis - 11/4/2005The fifth Annual National Take Affirmative Action Day (NTAAD) on October 27 presented students at five major Michigan universities with several opportunities to inform Michigan voters of the threats posed by the so-called Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI).
Just days later, the Michigan Court of Appeals would rule that the Board of State Canvassers must certify the MCRI signatures.
Sponsored by California businessman Ward Connerly, MCRI would end state equal opportunity and affirmative action programs in higher education, employment, and contracting.
NTAAD, an annual event sponsored by the United States Student Association (USSA), NAACP Youth & College, and Americans for a Fair Chance/Student Activist Network (a project of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund), serves to educate and organize campuses and communities across the country to support and strengthen affirmative action, equal opportunity, and recruitment and retention programs.
This year, colleges in 14 states and the District of Columbia held a wide range of events, including poetry slams, panel discussions, rallies, and forums demanding that college administrators and public officials take affirmative action to recruit, admit, and retain students, faculty and staff of color, women, and other underrepresented communities to institutions of higher education.
At Wayne State University, the NAACP Youth & College chapter sponsored a press conference and rally and distributed literature on the potential consequences of MCRI. "If affirmative action is taken out of Michigan, you're saying that there is no race issue within Michigan," said WSU rally keynote speaker Linda Parker, executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.
Wayne State students emphasized the fact that many different communities benefit from affirmative action programs.
"It levels the playing field, not just for blacks, but all minorities, including women. If it is taken away, we risk losing female athletic programs, nursing programs for men and educational opportunities," said Kristal Harris, president of Wayne State's NAACP Youth and College chapter.
Students at the University of Michigan have come together in a broad based coalition that they call Students Supporting Affirmative Action (SSAA). "SSAA encompasses groups traditionally recognized and traditionally ignored in discussions of affirmative action," said Lisa Bakale-Wise, student leader with SSAA. "For this reason, we asked anyone who identified as a student of color or woman to gag themselves on NTAAD to counter the myth that affirmative action is only a black/white issue and to raise awareness around the benefits women of all colors receive from the policies."
NAACP Washington Bureau director Hilary Shelton told audiences at several Michigan campuses that there are many misconceptions about what affirmative action does. "Affirmative action doesn't guarantee success, it guarantees opportunity," he said.