This is a big one y’all! More important than whether or not Chrissy and Jim Jones decide to have a baby or the oh so important topic about which of Josline’s (Love & Hip Hop Atlanta), body parts are bought versus natural. On October 10th, The Supreme Court is set to hear the Fisher vs. University of Texas case which challenges the University of Texas’ affirmative action policies with regard to student admittance. A majority vote for Fisher could turn back the clock on years of progress that has been made for minorities towards equal access to quality education. When Abigail Fisher’s admission to the University of Texas was rejected along with 17,000 other applicants who were also not accepted, Fisher claim she was denied only because she was White. Thus far courts have sided with the University of Texas, however undeterred Fisher has taken her case all the way to the Supreme Court.
As we are all familiar with this country’s tainted history with regard to racial equality, we know that what litter considerations that are in place to ensure fair and equal treatment to minorities have not come without a fight. The term affirmative action was first introduced in 1961 by John F. Kennedy and is defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary as,
“An active effort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of minority groups and women; also: a similar effort to promote the rights or progress of other disadvantaged persons.”
Taking a quick look at the history of affirmative action with regard to education, prior to the 1954 Brown vs. The Board of Education case in which the Supreme Court ruled “separate but equal,” schools unconstitutional, legal institutionalized segregation was the order of the day. “Separate but equal” was set in place by the landmark 1896 case Plessy vs. Ferguson in which bi-racial Homer Plessy was arrested for sitting in the white only section of a railroad car. Plessy’s lawyer Albion Tourgee, argued this violated Plessy’s 13th and 14th amendment rights. The 13th amendment abolished slavery and the 14th amendment granted equal protection to all under the law. Although the judge in the case could not legally deny the equal protection, but cunning indignation proclaimed that equal protection does not in fact constitute integration, and thus “separate by equal” was cemented in our history and extended to not only railroad cars, but also schools, voting rights, drinking fountains and so on. One bright spot in all of this is, it is this line of rational lead to the establishment what we now call Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
Fisher vs University of Texas puts affirmative action on the chopping block once again. Even after the Supreme Court ruling in 2003 which said affirmative action could be used in college admissions, we find this issue being challenged yet again. If the Supreme Court agrees with Fisher, aspiring minority colleges and universities students around the country could be facing the same fate of the California’s minority students who lost the battle to overturn Proposition 209, when in April of 2012, a federal appeals court panel upheld California’s ban on using race, ethnicity and gender in admitting students to public colleges and universities.
One could question, were it not for affirmative action, would people like Thurgood Marshall, Sonia Sotomayor, Clarence Thomas or President Barack Obama been able to rise to the ranks they have achieved today. Many studies proclaim education to be the great equalizer. In a perfect world, where everyone was automatically afforded the same opportunities there would be no need for a law or a discussion. However, while progress has been made, with regard to racial equality and tolerance, America is still a work progress.
Perhaps the Reverend Al Sharpton, said it best in the story “50 Years of Progress Should Not Be Erased With One Ruling.” For more history on the Fisher vs. The University of Texas case read more at HuffingtonPost.com … and check out Huff Post video below…. as well as slideshow of cartoons on this heated topic …..