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Stop the attack on affirmative action

by KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR | September 14, 2001 | Page 2

ATLANTA--In the latest blow to affirmative action, a federal appeals court struck down the University of Georgia's admissions policy. The decision took aim at the university's procedure of giving minority applicants more "points" in the admissions process, with the aim of creating a more diverse student body.

So are African Americans overrepresented at the University of Georgia? Nope. While Blacks make up 29 percent of the state's population, they are just 6 percent of students at the state's main university.

Not that the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cares. "If the goal in creating a diverse student body is to develop a university community where students are exposed to persons of different cultures, outlooks and experiences, a white applicant in some circumstances may make a greater contribution than a nonwhite applicant," huffed the court's three-judge panel in its ruling.

The decision is even more outrageous given the University of Georgia's racist past. African Americans were barred from attending until 1961. Shockingly, the school only began to include race as a factor in admissions in 1996.

The ruling in Georgia is part of a legal assault on affirmative action that has won victories in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and elsewhere. But students nationally have begun to take up the fight. Last spring, several thousand students rallied at UCLA in defense of affirmative action, and the Board of Regents for the University of California system overturned its ban on affirmative action policies.

On October 23, a national coalition will demonstrate in Cincinnati, where the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing a case challenging affirmative action at the University of Michigan Law School. Rev. Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow/PUSH organization have endorsed the protest. Everyone who cares about fighting racism should support this demonstration.

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