Ward Connerly is a former regent of the University of California and the founder and chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute. He is the author most recently of Lessons from my Uncle James: Beyond Skin Color to the Content of Our Character.
In 1995 Connerly campaigned for Proposition 209, which would make it illegal for the state of California to discriminate on the basis of race, intending to end the state’s affirmative action programs. The proposition passed.
Since then, Connerly, having won passage of such measures in Washington State and Michigan, has continued the fight. In discussing the battle to end racial preferences, Connerly notes that "the establishment is always at odds with the people on issues involving race."
Martin Luther King, says Connerly, would likely have supported affirmative action back in the 1960s, but were he alive today, he'd say, "We're beyond that now."
Would a President Obama agree? Connerly weighs in- Hoover Institution
Ward Connerly, author of the autobiography, Creating Equal: My Fight Against Race Preferences, is founder and President of the American Civil Rights Institute – a national, not-for-profit organization aimed at educating the public about the need to move beyond race and, specifically, racial and gender preferences. Mr. Connerly has gained national attention and respect as an outspoken advocate of equal opportunity for all Americans, regardless of race, sex, or ethnic background.
As a member of the University of California Board of Regents, Mr. Connerly focused the attention of the nation on the University's race-based system of preferences in its admissions policy. On July 20, 1995, following Mr. Connerly's lead, a majority of the Regents voted to end the University's use of race as a means for admissions. He was appointed to a 12-year term as UC Regent in March 1993.
In 1995, Mr. Connerly accepted chairmanship of the California Civil Rights Initiative (Proposition 209) campaign. Under his leadership, the campaign successfully obtained more than 1 million signatures and qualified for the November 1996 ballot. California voters passed Proposition 209 by a 55 percent to 45 percent margin.
Mr. Connerly also led the efforts to pass initiatives in the States of Washington and Michigan, that were patterned after California's Proposition 209, to require equal treatment under the law for all residents in public education, public employment and public contracting.
Mr. Connerly has been profiled on 60 Minutes , the cover of Parade magazine, the New York Times , Wall Street Journal , Newsweek magazine, and virtually every major news magazine in America. He has also appeared on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Crossfire, Hannity & Colmes, Meet the Press, Dateline, NBC Nightly News, CNN, and C-SPAN.
Mr. Connerly is President and Chief Executive Officer of Connerly & Associates, Inc., a Sacramento-based association management and land development consulting firm founded in 1973. He is regarded as one of the housing industry's top experts, possessing a comprehensive knowledge of housing and development issues. He has been inducted as a lifetime member into the California Building Industry Hall of Fame. Mr. Connerly currently is a member of the Rotary Club of Sacramento.
Peter M. Robinson is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he writes about business and politics, edits the Hoover Institution's quarterly journal, the Hoover Digest, and hosts Hoover's television program, "Uncommon Knowledge."
Robinson is also the author of three books: How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life; It's My Party: A Republican's Messy Love Affair with the GOP; and the best-selling business book Snapshots from Hell: The Making of an MBA.
Ward Connerly, founder and the chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute, supported proposition 209 elected in 1995. Prop 209 cut the proportion of the number of African American, Latino, and Native American students in half in all UC campuses. Connerly states he supported a measure that brought the principle of equality to California.
Connerly thinks Barack Obama's position on affirmative action is only for political purposes. He believes presidential candidates have to be for affirmative action in order to get the black vote and believes Obama’s stance will start to align more with his (away from affirmative action) if Obama wins the presidency.
As much as the Constitution is revered, and necessarily so, as a template for the organization of American society, it is nevertheless an imperfect document that in no complete way will account for and contain many impudent realities of human nature and human behavior. Those who support affirmative action (and its attendant imperfections) may know that it is 'extra-constitutional' in the same way they know that humanity is extra-constitutional, just as they may know that it is frivolous and irresponsible to allow an unavoidably limited document to legitimize avoidable human suffering and inequality. And so, thankfully, the Supreme Court has occasionally attempted to administer human justice when Constitutional justice reveals it's limits.
Ward Connerly's mistake is over-reliance on the Constitution to deliver human justice; a mistake that I might forgive him for were he not making it from such a place of comfort.