- Ward Connerly
Wardell Anthony Connerly (born
June 15, 1939) is an African-American political activist, businessman, and former University of CaliforniaRegent. He is also the founder and the chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute, a national non-profit organization in opposition to racial and gender preferences.Connerly, Ward. [http://www.acri.org American Civil Rights Institute] .] He is considered to be the man behind California's Proposition 209outlawing race- and gender-based preferences in state hiring and state university admissions, widely known as affirmative action. His twelve-year tenure on the Board of Regents ended on March 1, 2005.
Wardell Anthony Connerly was born
June 15, 1939, in Leesville, Louisiana. Connerly has stated he is one-fourth black, with the rest a mix of Irish, French, and Choctaw. His father, Roy Connerly, left the household when Ward was 2, and his mother died when Ward was 4. The young Connerly went to live first with an aunt and uncle and then a grandmother. He attended Sacramento State College, eventually receiving a bachelor of artswith honorsin political sciencein 1962 . While in college, Connerly was student body president and actively involved with Delta Phi Omega, later becoming an honorary member of Sigma Phi EpsilonFraternity. During his college years, Connerly was active in campaigning against housing discrimination and helped to get a bill passed by the state legislature banning the practice. After college, he worked for a number of state agencies and Assembly committees, including the Sacramento re-development agency, the state department of housing and urban development, and State Assembly committee on urban affairs. It was during the late 1960s that he became friends with then-legislator Pete Wilson, who became governor in 1991. At the suggestion of Wilson, Connerly stepped away from his government job in 1973 and started his own consultation and land-use planning company. In 1993 he was appointed to the University of California Board of Regents. Connerly is married to Ilene Connerly, who is his equal partner in the firm of Connerly & Associates; they have two children. [cite news | first=Barry | last=Bearak | coauthors= | title=Questions of Race Run Deep for Foe of Preferences | date=July 27, 1997 | publisher = "The New York Times" | url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C07E0DD153AF934A15754C0A961958260&sec | accessdate = | language =English ]
Connerly is a member of the
Rotary Clubof Sacramento, Californiaand has been inducted as a lifetime member into the California Building Industry Hall of Fame. [Rotary Club [http://www.dcn.davis.ca.us/GO/wsunrise/Ward_Connerly_Bio_-_WSRC_-...pdf Woodland Sunrise Rotary Club – April 5, 2007 Program] . "dcn.org" (website)]
upport of political campaigns against racial preferences
After his appointment to the University of California board of regents in 1993, Connerly began to discuss his views on
affirmative action. In 1994, after listening to Jerry and Ellan Cook, whose son had been rejected at the University of California, San FranciscoMedical School, Connerly became convinced that affirmative action, as practiced in the University of California, was tantamount to racial discrimination. Jerry Cook, a statistician, presented data showing that whites and especially Asians were being systematically denied admission despite having better grades and test scores than other students who were being admitted. [cite news | first=Ward | last=Connerly | coauthors= | title=THE DEATH OF MEDIOCRACY | date=June, 2000 | publisher = "La Griffe du Lion" | url=http://www.lagriffedulion.f2s.com/prop209.htm | accessdate = | language =English ] This was never denied by the administrators of the UC system, and led Connerly to propose abolishing these controversial programs, though his proposal would still allow consideration of social or economic factors. The regents passed the proposal in January, 1996 despite protests from activist Jesse Jacksonand other supporters of affirmative action. Some believe that the UC system had been discriminating against Asian applicants, in light of the fact that the year after affirmative action was abolished, their numbers showed a dramatic increase. [cite news | first=Wayne | last=Camara | coauthors= | title=Pursuing Campus Diversity After Affirmative Action | date=Spring-Summer, 2000 | publisher = "Diversity Digest" | url=http://www.diversityweb.org/digest/Sp.Sm00/affirmative.html | accessdate = | language =English ] UC regents developed a new system, including essay requirements that served to reveal the applicant's race and ethnicity. [cite news | first=Carl | last=Irving | coauthors= | title=There's No Valid Surrogate for Race | date=May, 1998 | publisher = "National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education" | url=http://www.highereducation.org/crosstalk/ct0598/news0598-race.shtml | accessdate = | language =English ] The new measures, titled "comprehensive review" have not yet been challenged to the California Supreme Courtor the Supreme Court of the United States.
In 1995, he became the chairman of the California Civil Rights Initiative Campaignref|chairman and helped get the initiative on the
Californiaballot as Proposition 209. The Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller Foundations, the ACLU, and the California Teachers Associationopposed the measure. It passed by a 54% majority. [cite news | first=Roopali | last=Mukherjee | coauthors= | title=Regulating Race in the California Civil Rights Initiative: Enemies, Allies, and Alibis | date=Vol. 50, 2000 | publisher = "Journal of Communication" | url=http://www.questia.com/googleScholar.qst;jsessionid=HXsD7DKj0pWvxfcZhhWD6fN8GsWhfg3XMlvkP0hWlxzz1PvpWT2M!428045187?docId=96424278 | accessdate = | language =English ] Connerly, in 1997, formed the American Civil Rights Institute. Connerly and the ACRI supported a similar ballot measure in Washington which would later pass by 58%. [cite news | first=Bill | last=Berkowitz | coauthors= | title=Ward Connerly's anti-affirmative action jihad | date=January 30, 2007 | publisher = " MediaTransparency" | url=http://www.mediatransparency.org/storyprinterfriendly.php?storyID=176 | accessdate = | language =English ] Connerly and his group worked to get a measure on the ballot in the 2000 Florida election. The Florida Supreme Courtput restrictions on the petitionlanguage, and Governor Jeb Bushlater implemented, through a program called "One Florida," key portions of Connerly's proposal, helping to keep it off the ballot by accomplishing some of its key objectives through legislation. During this time, Connerly also became a supporter of an initiative to provide health benefits for domestic partnersemployed by the UC system which was barely passed by the regents. [Herek, Gregory [http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/dp-intro.html Background: How the University of CaliforniaEnacted Domestic Partner Benefits] . "ucdavis.org" (website)]
In 2003, Connerly helped place on the California ballot a measure that would prohibit the state government from classifying any person by race, ethnicity, color, or national origin, with some exceptions such as the case it is needed for medical research. [cite news | first=Frances | last=Beal | coauthors= | title=California Ballot Initiative Promotes Racist Agenda | date=August 19, 2003 | publisher = "Znet" | url=http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=4061 | accessdate = | language =English ] Critics were concerned that such a measure would make it difficult to track housing discrimination and racial profiling activities. The measure was also criticized by newspapers like the
San Francisco Chronicleand Los Angeles Times, that claimed it would hamper legitimate medical and scientific purposes. The measure was not passed by the voters.
Following the 2003 Supreme Court rulings in "
Gratz v. Bollinger" and " Grutter v. Bollinger", Connerly was invited to Michigan by Jennifer Gratz to support a measure similar to the 1996 California amendment. The Michigan Civil Rights Initiativeappeared on the November 2006 Michigan ballot and passed. [Land, Terri (Secretary of State). [http://miboecfr.nictusa.com/election/results/06GEN/90000002.html "State Proposal - 06-2: Constitutional Amendment: Ban Affirmative Action Programs"] . "mi.gov" (website).]
Ward Connerly sees himself as a Republican with a
libertarianphilosophy.cite news | first=Phil | last=Wilayto | coauthors= | title=Ward Connerly & the American Civil Rights Institute | date=2000-09-07 | publisher = " MediaTransparency" | url=http://www.mediatransparency.org/personprofile.php?personID=13 | accessdate = | language =English ] In January, 2008, Connerly endorsed Republican Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. [cite news | last=Hill | first=John | title=Connerly endorses Giuliani | date=2008-01-10 | url=http://www.sacbee.com/static/weblogs/capitolalertlatest/009962.html | publisher=" The Sacramento Bee" | language=English]
upport for domestic partnership benefits
Despite his close political relationship with former California Governor
Pete Wilsonand their agreement on the question of Affirmative Action, Connerly spearheaded efforts to grant domestic partner benefits to gay and lesbian couples in all state universities against Wilson's objection. He says his views on gay rights stem from his libertarian viewpoint that governments, including government-run universities, should not discriminate, whether it's favoring some students because of their race, or limiting spousal benefits to others based on their sexual orientation.
Further, Connerly's support for domestic partner benefits earned him the ire of the conservative advocacy groups
Family Research Counciland Traditional Values Coalition. [cite news | first=Louis | last=Freedberg | coauthors= | title=An Unlikely Champion of Gay Rights | date=1997-12-31 | publisher = " San Francisco Chronicle" | url=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/1997/12/31/MN22876.DTL | accessdate = | language =English ] In reference to Connerly, Robert Knight, Director of Cultural Studies at the Family Research Council, stated, "no true conservative would equate homosexual households with marriages, because we believe that without marriage and family as paramount values, hell will break loose."Fact|date=August 2008
upport of same-sex marriage
In response to Proposition 8 on California's November 2008 ballot that would ban
same-sex marriagein California, Connerly stated, "For anyone to say that this is an issue for people who are gay and that this isn't about civil rights is sadly mistaken. If you really believe in freedom and limited government, to be intellectually consistent and honest you have to oppose efforts of the majority to impose their will on people." [cite news | last=Sullivan | first=Andrew | publisher=" The Atlantic Monthly" | title=Connerly on Proposition 8 | url=http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/07/connerly-on-pro.html | language=English]
upport of multiracial category on government forms
On July 9, 1997, Connerly's advocacy organization, the American Civil Rights Institute, expressed disappointment with the federal government's decision to reject the addition of a multiracial category on the Census and other government forms that collect racial data. [Connerly, Ward. [http://www.acri.org/news/070997.html American Civil Rights Institute] .] This press release was the beginning of Connerly's alliance with prominent members of what has become known as the multiracial movement. Prior to spearheading the Racial Privacy Initiative (Proposition 54) in California, Connerly forged ties with the publishers of
Interracial Voice[ [http://www.interracialvoice.com] ] and The Multiracial Activist, prominent publications for the multiracial movement. Eventually, Connerly enlisted the help of several outspoken members of the multiracial movement to assist with the execution of the Racial Privacy Initiative.
Connerly's opposition to affirmative action has generated controversy. Connerly believes affirmative action is a form of racism and that people can achieve success without preferential treatment in college enrollment or in employment. His critics contend that he fails to recognize the problems resulting from past racism, and that he fails to recognize that affirmative action programs can overcome the residual effects of past discrimination on people of minorities.cite news | first=Norah | last=Vincent | coauthors= | title=The New Math on Race | date=March 29 - April 4, 2000 | publisher = "
The Village Voice" | url=http://www.villagevoice.com/nyclife/0013,vincent,13592,15.html | accessdate = | language =English ]
The Detroit-based pro-affirmative action group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) claimed that Connerly, as CEO of Connerly & Associates, Inc., his Sacramento based consulting firm, benefitted financially from affirmative action programs in contracting, [By Any Means Necessary [http://www.bamn.com/doc/2003/0309-who-is-ward-connerly.asp Who is Ward Connerly?] "bamn.com" (Website)] a claim that was supported by the May 8, 1995 article in the San Francisco Chronicle.cite news | first=Suzanne | last=Espinosa Solis | coauthors= | title=Affirmative Action Critic Used His Minority Status | date=May 8, 1995 | publisher = "
San Francisco Chronicle" | url=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/1995/05/08/MN79160.DTL&hw=ward+connerly+contracts&sn=001&sc=1000 | accessdate = | language =English ] California requires state agencies to award 15 percent of all contracts to minority classified firms. [cite news | first=Ward | last=Connerly | coauthors=Daniel Colimon and Herman Cain | title=Pride and Prejudice | date=Spring, 1995 | publisher = "Policy Review" | url=http://www.hoover.org/publications/policyreview/3567227.html | accessdate = | language =English ] Minority owned firms that were not classified as such were not eligible for the set-asides. This created an incentive for organizations to register their ownership by race, in order to compete with similarly owned firms. State agencies may have been reluctant to do business with minority-owned firms that were not registered as such, since they would not get full credit for those contracts. Some claim this created a form of state-sanctioned discrimination against non-registered minority-owned firms. While BAMN's charge is accurate, proper context and background are absent.
BAMN also claims that as a spokesman for the American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI) and the American Civil Rights Coalition (ACRC), Connerly earned as much as $400,000, by which BAMN questions Connerly's true motives. BAMN seeks a repeal of
Proposition 209and a return to affirmative action programs, especially in campus admissions. BAMN has recently opposed Connerly's efforts to put the Michigan Civil Rights Initiativeon the 2006 Michigan Ballot, and recently disrupted a Michigan Board of Canvassers meeting by loudly protesting and overturning a table. [cite news | first=Ben | last=Lefebvre | coauthors= | title=Wham BAMN | date=January 11, 2006 | publisher = "Metro Times" | url=http://www.metrotimes.com/editorial/story.asp?id=8721 | accessdate = | language =English ]
Connerly's multiracial identity and views on affirmative action have led to him being labeled a "self-hating black" by some of his critics. In 1995, former State Senator
Diane Watsonsaid about him, "He's married to a white woman. He wants to be white. He wants a colorless society. He has no ethnic pride. He doesn't want to be black." [cite news | first=Larry | last=Elder | coauthors= | title=The "B" word and disrespect | date=March 27, 2002 | publisher = "World Net Daily" | url=http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=26994 | accessdate = | language =English ] [cite news | first=Jeff | last=Jacoby | coauthors= | title=Another year of hate speech from the left | date=December 31, 1996 | publisher = "The Boston Globe" | url=http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/1996/12/31/another_year_of_hate_speech_from_the_left/ | accessdate = | language =English ]
Connerly has also been accused of hypocrisy for supporting domestic partner benefits for gay couples while opposing affirmative action. Connerly's supporters point out that this is not contradictory: he opposes discrimination, whether it is against gays, or any racial, religious, or ethnic group. In this regard, Connerly disparages the term "reverse" discrimination. To Connerly and supporters, racial discrimination is indistinguishable, regardless of which racial or ethnic group is the target. [Golus, Carrie. [http://www.answers.com/topic/ward-connerly Black Biography: Ward Connerly?] "Answers.com" (Website)]
Another controversy arose after publication of Connerly's autobiography. Relatives have claimed his accounts of an impoverished childhood were exaggerated or simply false. Connerly's aunt claims his account is accurate. [cite news | first=John | last=McWhorter | coauthors= | title=Racial Profiling | date=September 13, 2002 | publisher = "The Wall Street Journal" | url=http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/_wsj-racial_profiling.htm | accessdate = | language =English ] Pooley claims that relatives who contradicted Connerly’s anecdotes about his poor childhood are lying because they disagree with his politics. [History Mania. [http://www.historymania.com/american_history/Ward_Connerly Your American History Reference Guide! - Ward Connerly] "Historymania.com" (Website)] [Amazon Prime. [http://www.amazon.com/dp/189355404X Creating Equal: My Fight Against Race] "Amazon.com" (Website)]
Connerly has made controversial remarks regarding
racial segregationon several occasions including the following:
*Connerly told NOW on PBS in August, 2008: "I think that in some quarters, many parts of the country, a white male is really disadvantaged...Because we have developed this notion of women and minorities being so disadvantaged and we have to help them, that we have, in many cases, twisted the thing so that it's no longer a case of equal opportunity. It's a case of putting a fist on the scale." [cite news | first=NOW on PBS | last=| coauthors= | title=Attacking Affirmative Action | date=August 29, 2008 | publisher = "
NOW on PBS" | url=http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/434/index.html | accessdate = | language =English ]
CNNinterview in December 2002 he said "Supporting segregation need not be racist. One can believe in segregation and believe in equality of the races," in response to a question regarding former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott.Fact|date=July 2008
*He told the "
San Francisco Chronicle" in September 2003 "I don't care whether they are segregated or not . . . kids need to be learning, and I place more value on these kids getting educated than I do on whether we have some racial balancing or not." regarding whether his Proposition 54 could derail school integration efforts in California public schools. [cite news | first=SFC | last=Editorial | coauthors= | title=Initiative could hurt integration efforts | date=September 2, 2003 | publisher = " San Francisco Chronicle" | url=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/09/02/ED259415.DTL | accessdate = | language =English ]
*Firelight Media interviewed Connerly for their documentary video "Arise: The Battle Over Affirmative Action" in which he comments; "If the Ku Klux Klan thinks that equality is right, God bless them," Connerly says. "Thank them for finally reaching the point where logic and reason are being applied, instead of hate."Fact|date=July 2008
:Connerly issued a written statement clarifying remarks, which some of his critics pointed to as showing a favorable tone towards the Ku Klux Klan's support for his Michigan campaign to outlaw affirmative action quotas and set-asides. Connerly's statement read, "Throughout my life I have made absolutely clear my disdain for the KKK. However, like all Americans, I hope that this group will move beyond its ugly history and agree that equality before the law is the ideal. If they or any group accepts equality for all people, I will be the first to welcome them." [cite news | first=Associated | last=Press | coauthors= | title=Michigan Voters Decide Today on Ward Connerly, KKK-backed Initiative | date=November 7, 2006 | publisher = "Diverse (Issues in Michigan Education)" | url=http://www.diverseeducation.com/artman/publish/article_6625.shtml | accessdate = | language =English ]
* [http://www.publicaffairsweb.com/ccri/connerly.htm Ward Connerly Biography]
* NOW on PBS follows and interviews Connerly in its August 2008 program [http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/434/index.html Attacking Affirmative Action]
* [http://reason.com/9802/fe.int.connerly.shtml "Racial Preferences Are Dead"] , interview in "Reason" by Michael W. Lynch.
* [http://multiracial.com/site/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=142&Itemid=39 "Let's Rid Ourselves of Those Silly Race Boxes "] , commentary in"The Abolitionist Examiner" by Ward Connerly.
* [http://tuftsprimarysource.org/?p=582 "A Candid Discussion About Racial Preferences"] , interview in "The Primary Source" (Tufts University student publication, Jan 24, 2007).
* [http://www.chetlyzarko.com/dingell-exchange.html Congressman John Dingell's "Go Home" Letter to Connerly in July 2003] , prior to the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI) launch, and counter-responses from Connerly and others.
* [http://realcluster.forethought.net:8080/ramgen/ari/registeredonly/aa_panel_20071105.rm Affirmative Action: A Diversity of Criticisms Panel Discussion (Video)] , A panel discussion featuring Peter Schwartz, Ward Connerly and Richard Sander. Recorded November 5, 2007. In this discussion, held on the 11th anniversary of the passing of Proposition 209, a panel of speakers delivers a variety of critical perspectives on Affirmative Action. Discussion addresses: What are the actual effects of Affirmative Action programs? And what are the ideas and ideals that lead many to support it? What should be the government’s role in fighting discrimination or promoting diversity?
# [http://www.acri.org/about.html About the American Civil Rights Institute]
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