Rev. Jesse L. Jackson
April 2, 2003.
Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., founder and President of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition issued the following statement regarding the United States Supreme Court Affirmative Action case.
Yesterday, I sat in the United States Supreme Court Chambers, 4 days before the 35th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.s assassination, hearing arguments led by the President, Attorney General and their allies to remove the fundamental under-pinnings of race remedy, after 40 years of racial injustice in America.
The crux of the affirmative action debate underscores the radical disregard of slavery, Jim Crow laws, and continued patterns of racial discrimination. It is significant that the University of Michigan currently uses 13 categories in an effort to achieve a diversified student body population. Of family legacy, residency, international, athletics, age and ability to pay, only race is under assault. It is race oppression and race denial that has scarred the soul of America.
During yesterday's arguments, anti-affirmative action forces could not answer Judge O'Connors challenge regarding race being a compelling component in military training but not in the training for business and other benefits of American life. On one hand, African Americans are on the frontlines of war in Iraq and in the back of the line for jobs, education and contracts in America.
If the Supreme Court rules against the American Dream, the elimination of Affirmative Action would make illegal the consideration of race, gender or ethnicity in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which Judge Clarence Thomas once chaired, procurement contracts and the Voting Rights Act.
Therefore, we must be vigilant, remain active and insistent on the protection of inclusive practices by law. Affirmative Action must not be ended, but extended to ensure equal opportunity to achieve the American Dream.
Published in In Motion Magazine April 7, 2003.
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