In 1996, California passed Prop 209, which banned consideration of race or gender in public education, public contracting, and public employment. As a result, many programs designed to ensure equal opportunity for women and people of color within California’s public agencies and institutions were immediately disbanded.
Prior to Proposition 209’s passage, California was a national leader with respect to inclusive hiring and admissions practices and was making notable progress towards leveling the playing field for women and people of color. Unfortunately, in the years since 209’s passage this progress has been stymied, and in many cases reversed. Our public schools and universities have quickly begun to re-segregate, and often do not remotely reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of our state. Additionally, businesses owned by women and people of color continue to face barriers to full and equal participation in the marketplace, and many have gone out of business due to persistent discrimination and the lack of programs designed to counteract these barriers. In short, Prop 209 has reversed many of the civil rights accomplishments in California by removing critical and necessary tools designed to ensure equal opportunity for all Californians.
In order to assure that women and people of color are able to compete fairly for jobs, contracts and educational opportunities, CCRC, in partnership with Equality Justice Society and other progressive allies, is exploring the viability of repealing Prop 209. In the interim, we must continue fighting to preserve and where possible expand the limited equal opportunity programs that do exist in California.
Despite the progress made in recent decades, the experiences of women and communities of color across the state indicate that we are far from “post-racial” or that we have achieved full equality for all Californians.
CCRC Members Who Advocate and/or Litigate for Equal Opportunity:
- American Civil Liberties Union (Northern California)
- American Civil Liberties Union (Southern California)
- ACLU San Diego
- Communities for a Better Environment
- Equal Justice Society
- Filipino Advocates for Justice
- Japanese American Citizens League
- National Lawyers Guild, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter