Above, students listen intently to his remarks. At right, Jackson holds his audiences attention with decisive statements about the importance of affirmative action and audience participation in chants.
Speaking of the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, Jackson said that then, we were trying to end negative action. Now, we are trying to defend affirmative action.
We are living under the King democracy, he told students. This notion that each of us has value is only 35 years old.
Earlier in the day, approximately 200 students from area high schools joined U-M students for a march and rally in support of the U-Ms affirmative action policies.
The Statue of Liberty is a tribute to ending slavery, Jackson told his audience. It is about liberty, it defines the dream of the invitation to come to the United States.
The American dream, he said, has five partsequal protection under the law, equal opportunity, equal access, a fair share and a concern for the least of these. He called those who would use race, gender, religion or class to separate and define groups of people the Dreambusters.
Affirmative action is not just about race, he said. It is about patterns based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation. Those patterns make it a majority issue, he said, because together those groups are a majority of the population. He gave as an example Title IX provisions that require sports for women be provided and funded as are mens sports like football and basketball.
Those women, here at the University of Michigan, benefit from affirmative action. Title IX is affirmative action.
Continuing the analogy to sports, he said that the goals are clear. When the playing field is even, we can all go to the next level. Photos by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services