Congresswoman Karen Bass, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, and Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker Endorse ACA 5

The Opportunity For All Coalition today announced three key endorsements of ACA 5, Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber’s (D – San Diego) bill to let voters reinstate affirmative action programs in California. Congresswoman Karen Bass of Los Angeles, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, and Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker have announced their support for ACA 5, joining a robust coalition of elected leaders, community leaders, and equity advocates from across California.

Both Mayor Breed and Representative Bass are history-making, transformational figures. Mayor Breed, who grew up in public housing in San Francisco’s Fillmore neighborhood, rose to become President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and in 2018 was elected as the first female African American Mayor of San Francisco.

Representative Karen Bass served in the California State Assembly before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010. While in the California State Assembly, Rep. Bass became the first African American woman elected to Speaker of a state legislative body — not just in California, but in the history of the United States. She is the current Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and is the first federal elected official to endorse ACA 5.

Opportunity for All Coalition Co-Chairs Eva Paterson and Vincent Pan celebrated Breed and Bass’ support for ACA 5, saying, “We are incredibly honored to receive the support of Congresswoman Bass and Mayor Breed, two influential elected African American women in the State of California.” They continued, “These leaders are on the forefront of the fight against the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 — and they know that in this moment of uncertainty, we can chart a course not just to restore the California we had before the virus, but to build a stronger California than ever before. They know that to do that, we must deliver equal opportunity for California’s women and communities of color — and the only way to truly do that is by passing ACA 5.”

Congresswoman Bass enthusiastically endorsed ACA 5, saying, “This bill is a dream come true. Twenty-four years ago we went door to door, neighborhood to neighborhood, precinct to precinct, urging voters to turn out against the deception propagated by advocates of Proposition 209. They called 209 a civil rights initiative. That was a lie. The second it passed, Black enrollment in the UC system plunged and our numbers in these institutions still have yet to recover.” She continued, “Now, thanks to the advocacy of leaders like Assemblymembers Dr. Shirley Weber and Mike Gipson, our state has the opportunity to right this terrible wrong. The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

“I’m fighting every day to keep San Franciscans safe and healthy, and to build a stronger and more resilient City as we emerge from this pandemic,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “That’s why I’m proud to support ACA 5, a historic chance for Californians to restore the equal opportunity programs that lift up all Californians — but especially African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian-Americans who have been hit hardest by the pandemic.”

Congresswoman Bass, Mayor Breed, and City Attorney Parker join a high-profile list of endorsers. They include: San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee, California State Board of Equalization Member Malia Cohen, San Francisco Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, San Francisco Supervisor Gordon Mar, San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, Alicia Garza, Black to the Future Action Fund; Angela Glover Blackwell; Dale Minami, Minami Tamaki LLP; Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley Law School; Eva Paterson, President and Co-Founder of Equal Justice Society; Guillermo Mayer; Author Jeff Chang; BART Board President Lateefah Simon; Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs; former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor and former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg; and Vincent Pan, Co-Executive Director of Chinese for Affirmative Action.

ACA 5 is a historic opportunity for California to join 42 U.S. states in utilizing affirmative action and equal opportunity programs to positively impact the health, well-being, education, and economic mobility of women and communities of color.

ACA 5 was introduced by Assemblymembers Dr. Shirley Weber and Mike Gipson; it is co-authored by Assemblymembers Burke, Cooper, Gonzalez, Holden, Jones-Sawyer, Kamlager, McCarty, and Mark Stone, and Senators Bradford and Mitchell. ACA 5 is supported by the 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, ACLU of California and scores of other community advocates.

For more information about the Opportunity for All Coalition behind ACA 5, visit https://opportunity4all.org.

Statement on Ahmaud Arbery

The Opportunity for All Coalition today issued the following statement:

“We are heartbroken and outraged by the unjust death of Ahmaud Arbery. Our deepest condolences go to Ahmaud’s family, friends, and community. We stand united with those seeking answers in Georgia, and with Americans across the country working to correct injustice in all its forms.”

Eva Paterson and Vincent Pan
Co-Chairs, Opportunity for All Coalition

Assembly Committee Approves ACA 5, Moves to Appropriations Committee

The Opportunity for All Coalition supporting ACA 5, Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber’s bill to allow voters an opportunity to restore affirmative action and equal opportunity in California, applauds the approval of the bill by the Assembly’s Committee on Public Employment and Retirement on a 6-1 bipartisan vote. ACA 5 will be heard next by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Eva Paterson, Co-Chair of the Opportunity for All Coalition, celebrated the victory, saying, “The vote today is a historic step for California. It is critical that ACA 5 is part of the discussion as we consider how we are going to keep Californians safe and stable through the COVID-19 crisis.” She continued, “We look forward to the next steps in the process of putting this on the November ballot. California has been hit hard by this virus. ACA 5 provides concrete ways for our collective recovery.”

The committee’s approval means ACA 5 is a step closer to giving voters an opportunity to consider race and gender in public education, contracting, and hiring decisions, by undoing the disastrous Proposition 209. This is especially critical as California considers how to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, which is severely impacting the health and economic futures of California’s women and people of color.

ACA 5 has been endorsed by over 100 organizations and leaders from across California, including ACLU of California, AFSCME Local 3299, California Black Chamber of Commerce, California Federation of Teachers, 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. It is also endorsed by California State Board of Equalization Member Malia Cohen, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and many more. Additionally, a public petition received over 2700 signatures from Californians. There were no letters submitted in opposition to ACA 5.

“Our coalition is made up of community leaders, equity advocates, and elected officials from across California, and today’s victory is a testament to the power of our unified voice speaking as one,” said Vincent Pan, Co-Chair of the Opportunity for All Coalition. “Californians from a wide range of communities – African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, women, business leaders, students, educators, and more – know that restoring affirmative action and equal opportunity programs is critical for building a stronger California as we fight the impacts of COVID-19.”

ACA 5 is a historic opportunity for California to join 42 U.S. states in utilizing affirmative action and equal opportunity programs to positively impact the health, well-being, education, and economic mobility of women and communities of color.

ACA 5 is co-authored by Assemblymembers Burke, Cooper, Gonzalez, Holden, Jones-Sawyer, Kamlager, McCarty, and Mark Stone, and Senators Bradford and Mitchell. ACA 5 is supported by the 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, ACLU of California, and scores of other community advocates.

For more information about the Opportunity for All Coalition behind ACA5, visit https://opportunity4all.org.

Asian American Elected Officials, Organizations, and Leaders Among More than 250 Endorsements for ACA 5

The Opportunity for All Coalition (opportunity4all.org) today announced a diverse list of more than 250 endorsements for ACA 5, including more than 50 endorsements from Asian American Pacific Islander elected officials, organizations and leaders. ACA 5, introduced by Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber of San Diego, would give voters the opportunity to remove the ban on affirmative action and equal opportunity programs in California by repealing Proposition 209.

Endorsements of ACA 5 include: San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee, San Francisco Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, San Francisco Supervisor Gordon Mar, San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, Chinese American Progressive Action, and Chinese for Affirmative Action.

Other high-profile endorsements include: the ACLU of California, AFSCME Local 3299, The Bar Association of San Francisco, California Federation of Teachers, California National Organization for Women, and the University of California Student Association, California State Board of Equalization Member Malia Cohen, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, and Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs.

More than 2,700 Californians signed a petition supporting ACA 5, and more than 100 organizations and individuals submitted letters of support.

The Opportunity for All Coalition, a statewide coalition supporting ACA 5, is led by co-chairs Vincent Pan, Co-Executive Director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, and Eva Paterson, President of the Equal Justice Society.

“For over fifty years, CAA has used affirmative action as a critical policy tool to advance fairness and equality for Chinese Americans in the United States.” said Pan. “When we repeal Proposition 209 and reinstate affirmative action, all communities including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders will have a better shot at achieving our dreams and leading our state forward.”

On March 25, the Opportunity for All Coalition issued a statement strongly condemning racist attacks and discrimination against Chinese Americans and Asian Americans. “We specifically denounce the alarming rise of racism against Chinese Americans and Asian Americans resulting from national leaders and conservative figures using ‘Chinese virus’ to refer to the coronavirus,” said Pan and Paterson in the statement.

A complete list of endorsements can be found at https://opportunity4all.org/endorsements/


PARTIAL LIST OF AAPI ENDORSEMENTS OF ACA 5

  • AAPI Women Lead
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles
  • AYPAL: Building API Community Power
  • Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies
  • Chinese American Progressive Action
  • Chinese for Affirmative Action
  • CSUN AAS Department
  • Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC)
  • Hmong Innovating Politics (HIP)
  • Khmer Girls in Action
  • Korean Resource Center
  • Little Manila Rising
  • Reappropriate
  • Ujima Child and Family Services
  • Aarti Kohli
  • Alice Li
  • Angelica Jongco
  • Betina Hsieh
  • Betty Hung
  • Bill Hing
  • Catherine Shieh
  • Connie Wun – AAPI Women Lead
  • Dale Minami – Minami Tamaki LLP
  • Dawn Lee Tu
  • Janelle Wong – Chinese American Progressive Action
  • Jasleen Kohli
  • Jeff Chang – Author
  • K. Wayne Yang
  • Mai Nguyen Do
  • Meher Dhaliwal – Equal Justice Society
  • Min Zhou
  • Minju Cho
  • Mona Tawatao – Equal Justice Society
  • Nicole Gon Ochi
  • Parshan Khosravi – University of California Student Association
  • Phil Hwang
  • Rhummanee Hang – AYAPAL: Building API Community Partner
  • Russell Jeung
  • Stephanie Ong – The Education Trust – West
  • Sumun L. Pendakur – USC Race and Equity Center
  • Susette Min – University of California, Davis
  • Vincent Pan – Chinese for Affirmative Action
  • Zafar Alikhan – Civic Design Group

Experts Discuss Policy Solutions to Address COVID-19’s Unequal Impact on Women and People of Color

With the California legislature returning to session next week, policy experts highlighted COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on women and people of color in a virtual salon on May 1 and called on state leaders to support policy solutions tailored to help the most vulnerable communities in the state.

ACA 5, introduced by Assemblymember Shirley Weber on March 10 would restore affirmative action in public contracting, public hiring, and public education so that state and local governments could better meet the public health and economic needs of a diverse California. 

“As a state leader,” said Malia Cohen, Member of the California State Board of Equalization, who has publicly endorsed ACA 5. “I’m committed to doing whatever it takes to make California stronger than ever — especially as we rebuild after the COVID-19 crisis. That means prioritizing the health and economic well-being of the most vulnerable in our communities. One of the best ways to do that right now is by restoring affirmative action and equal opportunity programs that protect women and people of color from discrimination.”

“COVID-19 has shown us just how unequal our public health system is in California,” said Dr. David Hayes-Bautista, PhD, Director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine. “As communities of color, especially Latino and African American communities, across the state are dying with far greater frequency from COVID-19 than white Californians, it’s imperative we take every opportunity to restore and strengthen our commitment to health equity in the state of California. We are all safer when we protect the most vulnerable — and that’s what affirmative action and equal opportunity programs will do.”  

Friday’s virtual salon was organized by the Opportunity For All Coalition, which is co-chaired by Vincent Pan, Executive Director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, and Eva Paterson, President of the Equal Justice Society. The Opportunity for All Coalition has built a diverse coalition of leaders and organizations from across California, advocating for affirmative action and equal opportunity programs, and the passage of ACA 5. The salon provided the coalition, supporters, and the media with a unique opportunity to hear from experts about why equal opportunity and affirmative action programs are critical in the age of COVID-19. 

Eva Paterson moderated the discussion, which was attended by 131 people on Zoom. Participants engaged policy experts with questions ranging from COVID-19’s impact on the state budget in the near- and long-term, to why ACA 5 will help protect vulnerable communities from another health or economic crisis.

Dr. Elisha Smith Arrillaga, Executive Director of The Education Trust-West, said, “Achieving equal opportunity in education for California students is a critical piece of building a stronger, more equitable state for all Californians. It’s critical we ensure the next generations of educators reflect the diversity of our students from pre-K through college — and that they are empowered with the resources and tools to succeed at every level.” She added: “Leaders need to listen to the voices of educators and families who are hardest hit by the public health and economic crisis. ACA 5 can help ensure that California leaders direct COVID-19 emergency resources to our most vulnerable communities. We have an opportunity to respond to this crisis with historic progress in California — let’s not miss this moment.”

Future salons may be held by the Opportunity For All Coalition, featuring other distinguished experts who support ACA 5, and restoring affirmative action in California. 

ACA 5 is authored by Assemblymember Shirley Weber and Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson, and co-authored by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr., Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager, and Senator Holly Mitchell.

ACA 5 is supported by the 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 virtual salon and the Opportunity for All Coalition behind ACA5, visit https://opportunity4all.org/salon/.

Statement by Opportunity for All Coalition on Coronavirus-Related Race Attacks

The Opportunity for All Coalition – which is working to eliminate discrimination in California state contracts, hiring and college admissions – strongly condemns racist attacks and discrimination against Chinese Americans and Asian Americans. This is the time for unity not division.

We specifically denounce the alarming rise of racism against Chinese Americans and Asian Americans resulting from national leaders and conservative figures using “Chinese virus” to refer to the coronavirus.

National leaders communicating, even implicitly, that those of Chinese or Asian ethnicity are responsible for the coronavirus epidemic are sowing hatred when they should be promoting unified efforts to address this ongoing crisis.

Racist messages by national leaders have consequences. A 16-year-old Asian American boy was physically attacked at a California school because he was accused of having the coronavirus. Two Hmong men in Indiana were denied service at hotels when their ethnicity was mistaken for Chinese and thought to be carrying the coronavirus. A woman in New York wearing a facemask, believed to be Asian, was physically and verbally assaulted in a subway station. Asian Americans are facing discrimination in the workplace as well. Workers in retail, hospitality, and healthcare sectors are hearing about customers and patients requesting to interact with “non-Asian” staff.

We are repeating history and it must stop. In 1982, a 27-year-old named Vincent Chin was bludgeoned with a baseball bat in Detroit by two white autoworkers who mistook Chin for being Japanese and wanting to blame Chin for the success of the Japanese auto industry. Chin died days later.

Racist violence against Chinese Americans and Asian Americans are not just harming individuals but also impacting businesses. Asian American businesses across the country are seeing significant losses in business, as customers fear a mistaken connecting between the virus and businesses owned by Asian Americans.

Public officials such as the members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, Gov. Steve Sisolak of Nevada and others have rightly condemned this racism against Chinese Americans and Asian Americans. The growing chorus of voices is making an impact. The President has stopped using his racist description for the virus.

Unfortunately, the damage is done, but we need to continue to speak against racism and scapegoating. The coronavirus epidemic is harmful enough by itself and we should be working together as a country and as a global community to solve this terrible crisis.

Eva Paterson and Vincent Pan
Co-Chairs, Opportunity for All Coalition

ACA 5 Introduced to Repeal Proposition 209

Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber (D–San Diego) and a broad coalition of colleagues and business leaders on March 10 announced ACA 5, which would initiate a ballot initiative to officially repeal Proposition 209, California’s ban on affirmative action.


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Media coverage as of March 12 (updated):
– San Francisco Chronicle: “California’s affirmative action ban, Proposition 209, targeted for repeal”
San Francisco Bay View: “Black Caucus introduces bill to overturn Prop 209”
– The Sacramento Observer: “Black Caucus Introduces Bill to Overturn Prop 209”
– Davis Vanguard: “Newly-Announced Bill Seeks to Repeal the Proposition Preventing Affirmative Action”
– Politico (subscription required): “Weber proposes repeal of Proposition 209″
Reappropriate: “California Legislators Introduce Bill to Reinstate Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity For All”

Photos from the press conference:
– Album on Facebook

Videos from the press conference
– Edited two-minute version, recorded by California Assembly Democrats
– Full press conference, recorded by The Sacramento Observer  

An antiquated law passed under Republican Governor Pete Wilson, Proposition 209 has prevented equal opportunity programs in public contracting, public employment and public education.

“This is a historic moment for California that has come not a moment too soon,” said Eva Paterson, Executive Director of the Equal Justice Society. “California is one of just eight states that bars public programs that level the playing field for women and people of color in public contracting, public employment and public education. It’s time for us to join the rest of the nation, deliver on our promise of equal opportunity for all, renounce discrimination in all forms, and repeal Proposition 209.”


At podium: Assemblymember Shirley Weber, author of ACA 5

As reported in The San Francisco Chronicle, the ban on equal opportunity programs has made it difficult for women- and minority-owned businesses to compete with big businesses despite having equal qualifications.


At podium: Small business owner Dr. Renee Fraser of Fraser Communications in Los Angeles

“Since becoming law in 1996, Proposition 209 has cost women- and minority-owned businesses $1.1 billion each year,” said Assemblymember Weber. “It has perpetuated a wage gap wherein women make 80 cents on every dollar made by men and has allowed discriminatory hiring and contracting processes to continue unhindered.”


At podium: Vincent Pan, Co-Executive Director of Chinese for Affirmative Action

“In contracting, small business owners don’t get the same fair shot because of Prop 209,” said Vincent Pan, Co-Executive Director for Chinese for Affirmative Action. “In Chicago or Atlanta, Asian American-owned businesses win more public contracts than in San Francisco or Los Angeles where equal opportunity is banned because of this law.”


Front left: Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, ACA 5 supporter

ACA 5 is authored by Assemblymember Shirley Weber and Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson, and co-authored by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr., Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager, and Senator Holly Mitchell. ACA 5 is supported by a broad multiracial coalition of civil rights organizations across California including the Equal Justice Society, the California Black Chamber of Commerce, Chinese for Affirmative Action, EdTrust West, and scores of community-based organizations.

More information about the Opportunity for All Coalition, the group of advocates supporting ACA 5, is available at http://www.repeal209.org.


Bayard Fong (left) of the Asian American Contractors Association and a college student supporter