Chapter 46- redefining racial equality

Coretta Scott King: Affirmative Action Promotes Justice

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Coretta Scott King: Affirmative Action Promotes Justice

During the debate over Proposition 209, Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King Jr., wrote an article opposing the measure. She began by explaining her husband’s support for affirmative action. He did indeed dream of a day when his children would be judged by the content of their character, instead of the color of their skin. But he often said that programs and reforms were needed to hasten the day when his dream of genuine equality of opportunity—reflected in reality, not just theory—would be fulfilled.

King went on to explain why affirmative action was still needed, more than three decades after such programs began: Those who say that affirmative action is no longer necessary rarely cite statistics to support their argument, for the evidence of continuing pervasive discrimination against minorities and women is overwhelming. Indeed, statistics . . . testify to how precarious our hold is on equal opportunity and how discrimination in our society persists.

Like my husband, I strongly believe that affirmative action has merit, not only for promoting justice, but also for healing and unifying society.

—Coretta Scott King, “Man of His Word,” New York Times, November 3, 1996

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