January 31, 2003

Thirty-Six Legislators Ask Regents to Condemn Connerly for Defense of Segregationism and Treatment of Students

SACRAMENTO, CA — Thirty-four Legislators joined Assemblymember Dario Frommer (D-Glendale) and Senator Don Perata (D-Oakland) in urging the University of California Board of Regents to rebuke Regent Ward Connerly for his recent remarks claiming segregation is not necessarily racist and instructing the U.C. Students’ Associatin to “go to hell” after they criticized his comments. In a recent CNN interview Mr. Connerly stated: “Supporting segregation need not be racist. One can believe in segregation and believe in equality of the races...”

In their letter to the Board of Regents, the Legislators called Connerly’s comments “outrageous for anyone to make, especially for a member of the governing board of the University of California system.” The letter went on to state: “Connerly’s comments betray a stunning ignorance of the history of segregation and racism. Segregation has always been a manifestation of racism and the two cannot be divided.”

The Legislators went on to condemn Mr. Connerly’s statement as an untenable position for an individual with responsibility for overseeing the education of a diverse student body—many of whom come from families who know first hand the pain of segregation and racism.

Legislators also expressed outrage at Mr. Connerly’s response to the University of California Student Association when it criticized his comments and sought an apology. Connerly’s response as reported in the Oakland Tribune was “they can go to hell.”

This letter is a follow-up to a letter sent last week by Assemblymember Frommer and Senator Perata:

California Legislature
January 23, 2003
John J. Moores, Chairman
University of California Board of Regents
1111 Franklin St., 12th Floor
Oakland, CA 94607

Dear Chairman Moores,

We write today to urge the Board to take disciplinary action against Regent Ward Connerly for his recent public comments on segregation.

In an interview on CNN on December 13, Mr. Connerly said:

“Supporting segregation need not to be racist. I think one could believe in equality of the races as he has talked about [referring to U.S. Senator Trent Lott] and believe that the races should remain separate and not have a notion that Black people are inferior for example.”

The statement was outrageous for anyone to make, especially for a member of the governing board of the University of California system. Connerly’s comments betray a stunning ignorance of the history of segregation and racism. Segregation has always been a manifestation of racism and the two cannot be divided. Whether the deep South’s Jim Crow laws or California’s own exclusion acts and racially restrictive real estate covenants, racism is the motive behind policies of segregation that prohibited restrictive real estate covenants, racism is the motive behind policies of segregation that prohibited many Americans from enjoying their God-given and constitutionally guaranteed rights. One cannot believe in segregation and equality. Segregation by its very definition is discriminatory. It involves the forced subjugation and isolation of a certain ethnicity or race with a goal of denying access to social and economic opportunities available to other member of society.

Mr. Connerly’s statement is an untenable position for a man who is responsible for overseeing the education of a diverse student body—many of whom come from families who know first-hand the pain of segregation and racism.

We are also outraged and deeply troubled by Connerly’s public response to the University of California Students Association when it criticized his comments and sought an apology. Connerly’s response as reported in the Oakland Tribune was “they can go to hell.”

We are astound by the lack of sensitivity Connerly expresses towards such a historically divisive issue that has long since been buried as the remnants of a racist society. Given the importance of Mr. Connerly’s position as a Regent, there is no room for such offensive behavior and disconcern for the students.

As stated in the Board of Regents governing policies, the Board works to protect the “broad diversity of backgrounds characteristic of California” on all its campuses. With this said, Mr. Connerly’s comments are both contrary to the Board’s policies as well as the public expectations of its leaders. It is hypocritical for Connerly to assert an unfettered ability to express his own opinions and then turn around and attempt to intimidate those who disagree with him.

For these reasons we urge the Board to take decisive actin to publicly condemn Mr. Connerly for his comments and treatment of the members of the U.S. Student Association. Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to a prompt response on how the board intends to proceed.

Sincerely

Thirty-six Legislators

signed

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