Connerly Leaves California Regents With Warning: Don’t Reconsider Affirmative Action
Ward Connerly, the University of California regent best known for dismantling state programs that gave preferences to minorities, completed his term with a final plea to fellow board members: Don’t bring back affirmative action admissions.
“There will be a great temptation … for you to relax your attitude about the use of race,” Connerly said in his parting remarks last month. “For God’s sake, don’t do it.”
After dismantling UC’s affirmative action system, Connerly, 65, chaired a state ballot initiative, Proposition 209, that scrapped similar programs in public hiring, contracting and education.
His next battleground is Michigan, where he and others recently announced they believe they have enough signatures to get a constitutional amendment similar to Prop. 209 on the November 2006 ballot.
Connerly, who is of Black, White and American Indian descent, was a catalyst for conflict during his 12 years as a regent. He was praised by supporters as a civil rights hero, denounced by others as a sellout; some opponents cheered Connerly’s departure during the public comment portion of last month’s meeting.
Regent Peter Preuss, a frequent ally, praised Connerly for his “delightful demeanor, even temperament and good humor.”
Some of the issues Connerly spearheaded led to tense times, Preuss said, “but is a board which would shy away from tense times really doing its job?”
Connerly’s voice appeared to quiver with emotion as he recounted highs and lows of what he jokingly referred to as “my 12-year sentence.”
“There have been times when I’ve been pretty tough on the university, but it’s out of love,” he said.
— Associated Press
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