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Statement of Debo P. Adegbile, Acting President & Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund after the U.S. Supreme Court Oral Argument in College Diversity Case10/10/12Related Case or Issue:
Fisher v. University of Texas at Issue
For many students, college is the first time that they have meaningful interactions with people of other races. Because many of our nation’s neighborhoods and schools remain segregated, not by law but in fact, the opportunities to learn from, work with, and live alongside people who are different are often limited in American life. For decades, the United States Supreme Court has helped to break down these barriers through landmark rulings that paved he way for the nation’s universities to pursue the twin goals of academic excellence and broad diversity.
Heman Marion Sweatt and Abigail Noel Fisher both wanted to attend the University of Texas at Austin.
Both claimed their race was a primary reason for their rejection. Both filed civil rights lawsuits, and the Supreme Court ultimately agreed to hear their separate appeals -- filed more than half a century apart.
In school districts across the nation, talented African Americans and other students of color are denied a fair opportunity to gain access to the life-changing educational experiences provided by specialized schools for high-achieving students and gifted/talented education programs. As a result, elite public schools and programs, which provide key pathways to college and then to leadership locally, regionally, and nationally, are among the most segregated.
I won’t be in class on Wednesday. Instead, I will be in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the historic arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas.
This case will decide whether UT will be able to continue on the path to becoming a place where students of all races and backgrounds are truly welcomed into our university community.