Affirmative Action Summit
Dear Colleagues and Friends:
It is my great pleasure to extend a warm welcome to our ACLU National colleagues, ACLU affiliates, distinguished speakers and coalition partners to this critically important summit on affirmative action. We are especially delighted to host this convening at UCLA, a site that remains a critical locale in the ongoing debate over social inclusion even in the aftermath of Proposition 209.
This Summit represents a unique opportunity to strengthen the network of institutions and individuals dedicated to sustaining a range of policies that have transformed our society and lifted the aspirations of millions of Americans. It is no secret, of course, that the survival of these policies is in doubt, and that opportunities that have been made available in the past may not be open in the future. These programs have been rendered vulnerable in part because of the preponderance of myths and stereotypes about affirmative action and by a dearth of information about its rationale, function and consequences. In short, what most people know about affirmative action isn’t right, and what is right about affirmative action most people don’t know.
It is our belief that the key to sustaining affirmative action lies in sharing information and resources across various sectors, organizations and communities in society. This Summit is a product of the kind of institutional collaboration that will advance a more productive, coherent and sustainable defense of these policies . In this respect, the ACLU began to work closely with the African American Policy Forum to create opportunities to share insights and information across institutional boundaries in 2004 by sponsoring the inaugural meeting of the Affirmative Action Research and Policy Consortium. This network of academics, research institutions and civil rights organizations formed to discuss and distribute valuable knowledge about the policies and laws that had been designed to advance greater levels of social inclusion in the United States. Some of the significant work that was initially outlined in that meeting was further nurtured by the ACLU’s Ira Glasser Racial Justice program which facilitated a two-year collaboration between the ACLU Racial Justice Project and AAPF. During this period, among other things,we worked together with the Michigan affiliate to educate voters about affirmative action. Our efforts drew on past experiences in California and Washington, and on some of the newer ways of thinking and talking about affirmative action. This work now takes on national importance as debate about the continuing utility of affirmative action stretches to five more states in November.
There is both hard work as well as opportunity in the road ahead. With the team of people who have come together to make this Summit possible, we are confident that our network of allies will be better situated to meet the challenges that we face. We thus wish to express our deep appreciation to the Racial Justice Project of the National ACLU, to the ACLU affiliates and their partners and to our many speakers who have graciously agreed to share their experience and expertise. We also wish to express a special thank you to the UCLA Law School and to the Critical Race Studies faculty and staff in particular who have been incredibly giving of their time, advice and support; and to AAPF staffers Luke Charles Harris, Camila Morsch, Cali Tran, and volunteer Alisha Rivera who have worked tirelessly to assure the success of this project. Finally, we wish to acknowledge the support of the Dream Fund, the ACLU Foundation, and the Open Society Institute whose generous support of affirmative action has made this Summit possible.
We look forward to a productive and inspiring Summit.
African American Policy Forum