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National Underground Railroad Freedom Center statement on the Supreme Court decisions on affirmative action

Yesterday’s Supreme Court landmark decisions regarding affirmative action, making it unlawful for colleges and universities to take race into consideration as a specific basis for granting admission and overturning longstanding precedent that has benefited Black and Latino students in higher education, are a setback in our quest for equity and a blow to the legacy and progress of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. The decisions clearly reflect a super-majority conservative wing of the Supreme Court that seems unwilling to accept systemic racism’s extraordinary power in denying the constitutional promise of equality for all.

Numerous studies have shown the importance of higher education in attaining better life outcomes. This decision pushes highly qualified students of color further back from the starting line and asks admissions officials to pretend that skin color does not matter in America, when in reality it has been the dominant factor perpetuating systemic inequities that have stunted the progress of Black and Brown communities in this country for generations.

Racism is a cancer. It will not simply go away if ignored; it will spread and consume our nation. It must be treated aggressively through programs that eradicate historic systems of inequity. Programs like affirmative action, implemented only out of recognition that the playing field is not level for people of color, have been instrumental in advancing America’s global leadership in every aspect of our society.

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