The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 10, 2003 - 7A
Seventh BAMN natzonal conferenc
Continued from Page 1A
mative action is our right," as they marched around the Diag's
During the rally, many spoke of a new civil rights move-
ment. By defending affirmative action, supporters say they are
defending Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme
Court case that ended segregation in public schools.
"Look at these students. Look at these people who have
come from all over the country. The spirit of (Martin Luther)
King, the spirit of Malcolm X is alive today on this Diag," said
the Rev. Mark Lyons of Ann Arbor's Second Baptist Church,
Affirmative action opponents were also present on the Diag.
Young Americans for Freedom, a national student group sup-
porting conservative ideals, held signs of protest as BAMN
supporters rallied. One YAF sign read, "Affirmative Action =
"YAF is out here today to support Ward Connerly's Michi-
gan Civil Rights Initiative. We believe that racial preferences
are wrong and are inherently racist. So we're supporting Mr.
Connerly's initiative to end all racial preferences in public edu-
cation, hiring and contracts' YAF Co-Chair Laura Davis said.
Davis disapproves of BAMN's mobilization approach. To
expand its support base, the organization has reached out to
public school students, primarily in Detroit. Davis said she
found this unsettling. Students, she said, were given a biased
opinion. "They bring in all these students from Detroit public
schools to protest and I think it's really unfortunate that they
don't hear the other side of the story. They only hear about
affirmative action, and I think they get a twisted version of it,"
Ann Arbor Huron High School freshman Fatou Biouf said
she disapproved of Connerly's initiative. BAMN, who per-
suaded her school to allow students to miss class to rally Fri-
day, has played a role in building support for affirmative action
in her school, she said. Huron High School allowed students
with a signed permission slip to attend the rally today.
Similar organizations exist at other schools. At Robert A.
Taft Information Technology High School, juniors Melva
Menesield and Melvin Ham are part of the Future Leaders
Against Racism Everywhere, an independent group that sup-
ports BAMN. They serve to "bring new people to get training
to be a civil rights leader," Ham said.
FLARE president Ham disagreed with the YAF but recog-
e draws support]
nized their right to assemble."They have the freedom to do
that, so I have no problem with it. They're against it, I'm for it,
and that's just how it is," he said.
The focus on middle and high school students continued
throughout the weekend. On Saturday night, affirmative action
supporters gathered in the Natural Science Auditorium to dis-
cuss educational inequalities. To demonstrate the need for
affirmative action, Detroit public school students produced a
presentation comparing urban school facilities to those of
wealthier, suburban towns, such as Gross Pointe North.
Pictures taken of moldy floors, broken chairs and unbound
books showed the relative lack of funding and support for
Detroit public schools, presenters said.
As photos segued from urban to suburban, BAMN support-
ers, many of whom were high school students, strongly react-
ed to such physical disparities.
This presentation was just one of many activities held
throughout the weekend. Workshops teaching students how to
start satellite BAMN chapters and discussions on the state of
historically black colleges and universities were also part of
this year's conference. "We're trying to start a chapter at (the
University of Southern California). We are coming off our vic-
tory on Proposition 54," said USC freshman Nikki Hyde at the
rom younger base
rally Friday. California voters last month rejected Proposition
54, which would have eliminated the use of race in govern-
ment collection of information.
The focus of the conference, however, was Coors and its
relationship to Ward Connerly.
BAMN intended to hold "informational pickets" on Satur-
day night outside local party stores. Though cancelled at the
last minute due to bad weather, organizers will contact all
stores and bars that sell the product in an attempt to "get Coors
cleared off the shelves in Ann Arbor," BAMN national
spokesperson Chanta Driver said.
The Brown Jug has signed on to the effort, LSA senior and
BAMN organizer Kate Stenvig said.
This year's conference is one of several methods
BAMN will use in hopes of mobilizing state voters in
opposition to Connerly. Later this month, the organiza-
tion will picket in Lansing. It also will hold a march on
Martin Luther King Day.
"We are also in the process of organizing rallies and
marches beyond this. We're going to have a 'Decline to
Sign' campaign and make sure we defeat it," Driver
- Karl Emerick contributed to this reportfor the Daily.
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