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.
Rally to Save Affirmative Action in Michigan Draws Thousands
Feature Story by Tyler Lewis - 10/11/2006
The campaign in Michigan opposing Proposal 2, a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban affirmative action and equal opportunity programs in the state, is picking up steam as it heads into the November election.
On September 16, nearly 2,000 Michiganders marched to the State Capitol in Lansing holding signs like "Don't Roll Back Progress" and "NAACP: Save Affirmative Action." Many of them chanted "Vote No on Proposal 2."
On November 7, Michigan voters will vote on Proposal 2, which would ban affirmative action and equal opportunity initiatives in state contracting, education, and employment.
"This is a moral issue as well as an economic issue. We need to create an educated society, and in order to do that, everyone needs to receive the same opportunities," said Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, at the rally.
The rally was organized by the Michigan State Conference of the NAACP, which is a member of One United Michigan (OUM), a coalition of more than 200 organizations that has conducted a public education campaign to inform Michigan voters how Proposal 2 would roll back progress in the state.
In addition to Gov. Granholm, speakers included Bruce Gordon, president and CEO of NAACP, Michigan U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Michigan State Conference NAACP President Yvonne White, Detroit Branch NAACP President Rev. Wendell Anthony, and Virg Bernero, the mayor of Lansing.
NAACP's Gordon reminded the crowd of the historical role affirmative action played in providing equal opportunities for women and minorities. "We know in this country to ensure equal rights, to ensure equal access, there has to be interference in the process, affirmative action is constructive interference, to make sure there is a level playing field. That playing field has to be protected," said Gordon.
Will Calhoun, a student who attended the rally from Flint, told Central Michigan Life that "We're only two generation away from the civil rights movement. We need to implement these programs in order to right a wrong."
In addition, speakers at the rally said that banning affirmative action is not the remedy to Michigan's economic woes. "This is about everybody having a chance to make it in Michigan," said Senator Stabenow. "When everyone has a chance, we are a stronger state."
Proposal 2 opponents say that an affirmative action ban will only exacerbate the state's stark racial and gender disparities. In Michigan, the median family income for white families is $56,320; for Hispanic families, it is $41,252; for African-American families it is $35,536, according to the 2000 Census.
A recent study by The Center for the Education of Women at the University of Michigan examined the impact of Proposition 209, a similar ballot initiative also introduced by Connerly, and passed by California voters in 1996. The study found "ample evidence" that passage of Proposal 2 "would result in a similar pattern of lost services and restricted opportunities."
Proposal 2 is sponsored by former California businessman Ward Connerly. Connerly sponsored similar initiatives to ban affirmative action in California (Prop. 209) and Washington (Initiative-200) - states that have since seen dramatic declines in underrepresented minorities in state contracting and in admissions to the state university systems.