The situation in the University of California is at a crisis point, and everything must be done to increase underrepresented minority student enrollment now. Gov. Jerry Brown should have signed SB 185, which allowed public universities to consider race and gender in admissions to increase underrepresented minority student enrollment.
However, Gov. Brown’s veto message also refers to the importance of BAMN’s pending lawsuit to overturn Proposition 209, the state ban on affirmative action. This is a court case that the new student-led civil rights and immigrant rights movement can win if we mobilize mass action across the state.
BAMN invites all the people and organizations who fought so hard to support SB 185 to support the campaign to overturn Prop. 209.
In July of this year, BAMN won a decision to overturn Proposal 2, Michigan’s version of Prop. 209, in the Sixth Circuit Appeals Court. We intend to win a similar victory for our lawsuit against against Prop. 209 here in California — that will require mobilizing the independent power of the movement again.
One or both of these cases could eventually be heard before the Supreme Court of the United States and will determine whether the doors to higher education may be closed to the nation’s growing Latino, black and other minority communities. These cases will become our generation’s Brown v. Board of Education, our nation’s watershed for racial progress.
As the passage of the California DREAM Act shows, the Latino and other minority communities of California have tremendous social power when we take independent, direct action. Now that we won the DREAM Act, we need to fight for more Latino, black, Native American and other underrepresented minority students to get into the UCs who are otherwise being excluded by Prop. 209. We now have a huge opportunity to correct that historic wrong.
We need to use the next six months to mobilize student action to impact the outcome of the Prop. 209 case before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals hearing. BAMN, the African American studies department, gender and women’s studies department, and the Center for Race and Gender are holding a forum and mass meeting at 7 p.m. on in 102 Wurster Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 11, with Shanta Driver, BAMN’s national chair and lead attorney in the 209 challenge. We invite everyone to join us.
Matt Williams is a senior at UC Berkeley and organizer for BAMN.