Bush Continues Opposition to Affirmative Action on MLK Day
President Bush is scheduled to attend a congregation today at a primarily African-American Baptist church in Glenarden, MD. Just yesterday, the church's Rev. John K. Jenkins preached at four services to more than 6,000 people that he hoped that “God will change [Bush's] heart" about affirmative action, according to the Washington Post. On Thursday, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s actual birthday, the Bush administration announced its decision to file an amicus brief in the Supreme Court supporting the lawsuit of white students against the University of Michigan’s admission policy, which considers race, along with geography, test scores, grades, and a host of other personal achievements. The Post points out that the congregation at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden is likely to be filled with African-American professionals, some of whom benefited from affirmative action in their schooling and careers.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, the highest-ranking African-American in the Bush Administration, stated Sunday that he disagrees with President Bush’s position on the Supreme Court case, according to the Associated Press. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice agrees with the President’s decision, though she supports using race as one factor among many in university admissions if race-neutral policies to achieve diversity are not working, Fox News reports. Rice, an African-American, admits that she benefited from affirmative action during her career at Stanford University, according to AP. Civil rights activist and entertainer Harry Belafonte said in a speech on Sunday that while he was somewhat pleased that Rice supports race in admissions policies some of the time, he believes that under Bush, “Affirmative action is the next to go, and a woman’s right to [choose] is the next to go,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Coming right after the Trent Lott debacle,” Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal stated, “this decision clearly shows exactly where the Bush administration stands on issues of race. Women have made gains in employment and education because of affirmative action. If we lose affirmation action on the basis of race, we will eventually lose it on the basis of gender. Remember, the administration is also attacking Title IX, the law that guarantees women equality in federally funded education. A Bush-appointed commission currently reviewing Title IX is scheduled to vote at the end of the month to reduce sports opportunities for girls.