California Voters Will Have Their Say on Proposition 209 and Affirmative Action

With Successful Senate Vote, ACA 5 Clears California Legislature and Goes to November Ballot

The Opportunity For All Coalition today celebrated the full, historic passage of ACA 5 — allowing California voters to reinstate affirmative action — through the State Legislature. For the first time in a generation, Californians will have the opportunity to vote to repeal Proposition 209 and reinstate affirmative action statewide.

Eva Paterson, President of the Equal Justice Society and Co-Chair of the Opportunity For All Coalition behind ACA 5, said, “I am thrilled by this historic vote. For the past generation, many of us have dreamed of the day when we could reinstate affirmative action in California by overturning Proposition 209. Strangely enough the twin disasters of Covid 1619—that is not a typo—and the televised murder of Mr. George Floyd led us to this moment. As Trevor Noah pointed out, Covid 1619 removed all the usual distractions and forced us to sit and watch the life drain out of Mr. Floyd’s body as he called for his mother. White America could not longer pretend that we live in a colorblind post-racial America.

She continued, “I am thankful for the grassroots coalition that has pushed for this legislation since August and I can’t wait for the next stage of this historic campaign. There are 132 days until November 3rd and 99 days until voting by mail is over.”

Vincent Pan, Executive Director of Chinese for Affirmative Action and Co-Chair of the Opportunity For All Coalition, said, “Today’s historic vote is a testament to the power of our coalition, and the power of the moment we find ourselves in as a state and a nation. Legislators and voters alike are looking to rebuild a better world: where Black lives matter, where no one is more vulnerable to a health or economic crisis than anyone else, and where all of us have equal opportunity to succeed no matter what we look like, or who we are.” He continued, “In this pivotal time, in an election where so many Californians are ready to demand change, we will be able to not just reverse the mistakes made in 1996, but once again plant California’s flag as a national leader for justice.”

Elisha Smith Arrillaga, Executive Director of The Education Trust–West, said, “We can’t fix problems we refuse to look at, and it is past time to acknowledge that race and gender matter for California’s students. From pre-school through higher education, we give students of color unequal access to quality education and teachers who look like them; to advanced coursework and college opportunity and then we pretend to be shocked by gaps in educational attainment and economic opportunity. We steer young women away from science, technology, math, and engineering, even as we denounce the pay gap. Repealing Prop 209 is a critical first step toward confronting discrimination and structural inequality so we can build a California that truly provides opportunity for all.”

“Reinstating affirmative action in California will be an enormous victory for workers,” said Julie Walters, State Political Director of AFSCME Local 3299. For too long, we have been unable to ensure women and people of color have an equal shot at making a decent wage, at promotions, and at attaining leadership roles to move our state into the future. As we navigate the COVID-19 crisis and get people back to work, we have an opportunity to not just rebuild our economy, but also build one that is more equitable, and more sustainable.”

ACA 5 has been endorsed by over 500 organizations and leaders, including California Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein, California Governor Gavin Newsom, California Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis, U.S. Representative Karen Bass (CA-37), Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee, California State Board of Equalization Member Malia Cohen, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, California State Controller Betty Yee, former California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, Insurance Commissioner of California Ricardo Lara, and Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs. It is also endorsed by SEIU California, ACLU of California, United Farm Workers (UFW), AFSCME Local 3299, San Diego Building & Construction Trades Council, Cesar Chavez Foundation, Dolores Huerta Foundation, California Black Chamber of Commerce, California Climate Change & Agriculture Network, California Federation of Teachers, California Labor Federation, California Teachers Association, California National Organization for Women, California/Hawaii State Conference NAACP, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Equal Justice Society, The Education Trust – West, and the University of California Student Association.

ACA 5 was authored by Assemblymembers Weber, Gipson and Santiago, and co-authored by Assemblymembers Burke, Cooper, Gonzalez, Holden, Jones-Sawyer, Kamlager, Kalra, McCarty, Stone, Wicks, and Senators Bradford, Mitchell, Hueso, and Skinner. The bill was supported by leading civil rights organizations, labor groups and business leaders across California including Equal Justice Society, the California Black Chamber of Commerce, Chinese for Affirmative Action, ACLUs of California, and scores of other community advocates.For more information about the Opportunity for All Coalition behind ACA 5, and for updates on how the coalition will take further action for equal opportunity, visit https://opportunity4all.org.

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