Civil Rights Coalition Calls Ward Connerly’s Anti-Affirmative Action Michigan Initiative Divisive and Misguided

Media 01.6,05

“Ward Connerly’s submission today of his reportedly more than the required (approximate) 320,000 signatures of Michigan voters are a part of his ongoing divisive and misguided effort to ban affirmative action programs that will deny women and minorities access to equal opportunity,” said Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest and most diverse civil and human rights coalition. The Michigan State Board of Canvassers will review the signatures to determine if Connerly’s anti-affirmative action initiative will qualify for the 2006 ballot.

“Connerly’s actions today remind us that the civil rights community must stay vigilant in our opposition to his efforts. Connerly continues to blatantly manipulate language from the 1964 Civil Rights Act and engage in misleading tactics to get Michigan voters to support his efforts to roll back programs that promote equality in employment and higher education,” said Henderson. “As in 2004, Connerly’s crusade to end affirmative action policies and his misguided agenda to subvert public support of equal opportunity for women, minorities and all Michigan voters will fail.”

In March 2004, Connerly’s attempt to place the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI) on the November 2004 ballot was weakened when a Michigan judge ruled that the initiative was “blatantly in direct conflict” with the Michigan Constitution and did not fully inform voters of its effect on the Michigan State Constitution. In May 2004, Connerly ended his anti-affirmative action ballot initiative because of the court decision and his failure to garner the requisite number of signatures.

Connerly’s efforts are opposed by a broad, bipartisan coalition of organizations and individuals including Citizens for a United Michigan, Michigan Catholic Conference, Business & Professional Women, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Michigan Education Association, NAACP, Detroit Renaissance, ACLU, Michigan Federation of Teachers, American Association of University Women, National Council of Jewish Women, YWCA, AFL-CIO, and AFSCME, among others.