Detroit Council urges elected leaders, institutions to restore affirmative action

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — The City Council is urging the Legislature to state steps toward restoring affirmative action in Michigan.

Detroit's nine-member council unanimously approved a resolution on Tuesday encouraging elected leaders, influential corporations and state residents to "move as swiftly as possible" to bring back affirmative action in Michigan by amending the state's constitution.

Councilman Andre L. Spivey

The resolution, sponsored by Detroit City Councilman Andre Spivey and joined by President Brenda Jones, contends "structural and systematic racial bias" in the country throughout history resulted in the successful Nov. 7, 2006, ballot initiative that prohibits the use of affirmative action in Michigan. 

With the passage of "Proposition 2" in the state, it has been illegal for colleges and universities to consider race in admissions since. 

Approval of that measure, the resolution argues, has had negative repercussions and "prevents government from effectively addressing many problems and concerns of such traditionally disfavored constituents."

The Memorial Day killing of George Floyd in Minnesota and other incidents of race-related police brutality and deadly effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have sparked an uprising of oppressed Americans against racism and police misconduct, the resolution adds. 

"Under the new and still-evolving analysis of racial injustices, the voters’ 2006

prohibition of affirmative action in Michigan appears to be completely out-of-step and to directly contradict the long-overdue changes currently being publicly advocated," it reads. 

Affirmative action hasn't been "very high on the list of demands among protesters, reparations for slavery have been and a well-designed affirmative action plan should be a "major element of such reparations for African Americans." 

Spivey and Jones could not be reached Tuesday for comment. 

Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones uses protective gloves as she conducts council business during a regular meeting in their chamber, Tuesday, March, 17, 2020.

In a Facebook post, Jones, who is challenging Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, to represent the 13th Congressional District, said the council continues to be "proactive on important issues" such as affirmative action.

"This resolution will urge all elected leaders, influential corporations and other institutions, and the citizens of Michigan to restore affirmative action by repealing Article 1, Section 26 of the State Constitution and adding language that is pro-affirmative action policies to ensure that everyone’s rights and privileges are protected," she said. 

Council's legal staff in a June 30 memorandum noted that organizing, funding and carrying out a campaign to repeal the law and replace it with language to authorize affirmative action as a government policy "to remedy major past injustices" is "a very large one."

That work, the policy brief adds, would have to span well beyond Detroit's council and its legal team.