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Its supporters call it the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative. It is anything but that.
The proposed constitutional ban on state and local government affirmative action programs in Missouri is an anti-civil rights measure.
It deprives people of color of the right to overcome the effects of 150 years of state-mandated slavery and segregation.
It deprives whites of the right to adopt policies that will move Missouri to a more just society.
It deprives women of the right to undo the impact of a century-plus of discriminatory laws and practices.
It deprives men of the right to champion programs that will make Missouri a more equal community.
You cannot deny people of color access to educational opportunity for over 150 years, as Missouri did, and then suddenly declare that does not matter.
You cannot say to entire gender that you can be a nurse but not a doctor, a teacher but not the superintendent and then, when the glass ceiling has a few cracks, proclaim that all is well.
Missouri needs a government empowered to set things right, to practice affirmative action, to create a more just and prosperous society.
So in the next few months, if asked to sign a petition to put an affirmative action ban on the ballot, say no. Join those who want to move toward social justice, not away from it.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Terry Jones is Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri - St. Louis.