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OPINION: I Am a Product of Affirmative Action

Patrick Diamond, who wrote the below op-ed about affirmative action, sits with his wife in front of Cheryl Warrick’s painting titled “No Wealth but Life.”
Patrick Diamond (right) with his wife Judy at a 2018 Gantt Center exhibit based on the couple’s art collection. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)

Like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, I am a product of affirmative action. And like Justice Thomas, my parents and grandparents were born in Georgia. Like Justice Thomas, I attended Catholic elementary and high schools during the 1950s & 1960s, prior to being admitted to college as a direct result of affirmative action policy.

I AM A PRODUCT OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION. In 1973 while participating in a Harvard College volunteer program in Tanzania, East Africa, I was interviewed by the provost of Williams College for a combined administrative and coaching position. At that time, Williams College was very proactively recruiting Black and women candidates for faculty, administrative and coaching opportunities. Williams had been a male-only college, but in the early 1970s decided to initiate an affirmative action policy to admit women for the first time and increase its enrollment of African American students. 

I AM A PRODUCT OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION. By the 1980s, I had come to know and fully embrace the importance and value of affirmative action policy as a means of improving the educational and employment opportunities for Blacks, women and other Americans. I believed then and now that every single Black, white, Native American, Hispanic, male and female college graduate helps to make our country a much better, stronger and more equitable nation.  

I AM A PRODUCT OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION. During my work life I have benefited from exciting, challenging and rewarding job opportunities with major corporations that created affirmative action policies as part of their Fair Employment Practices and Policies. I enjoyed great job opportunities with Bank of America and Duke Energy Corporation in Charlotte. I have also had the privilege of serving in rewarding management roles in municipal government and nonprofit organizations that have affirmative action and nondiscriminatory policies.

I AM A PRODUCT OF AFFRIMATIVE ACTION. Unlike Justice Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice John Roberts’ Supreme Court, the following historical facts about the United States are my constant reminders of the ongoing and critical need for a long-term federal commitment to affirmative action policy.

  • Ten of the first 12 United States Presidents owned enslaved Africans.
  • For nearly 250 years, only white men, white supremacists, segregationists and slave owners were appointed to the United States Supreme Court.
  • Enslaved Africans and freedman fought and died in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II, not only hoping and praying for and being repeatedly promised affirmative action in the form of full American citizenship. 
  • Immediately after the Civil War, President Andrew Johnson and the U.S. Supreme Court established policies and took actions that adversely affected race relations and human rights for more than 200 years.
  • For centuries the Supreme Court’s opinions on the enslavement of Africans, women’s rights, civil rights and voting rights have negatively affected millions of their fellow Americans.
  • There have been only six women appointed to the Supreme Court in its history.
  • In the history of the court, there has been only one Thurgood Marshall.
  • Today we are learning that John Roberts’ Court is significantly influenced by the secretive Federalist Society, the incredible financial resources of its billionaire funders/members, and the court’s own periodic, dishonest and false interpretation of the United Sates Constitution. At this late date how can the current Roberts’ Court not fully understand the historical and contemporary need to honestly interpret the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the US Constitution?

Lastly, in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding affirmative action policy and college admissions, my hope is that Harvard College, the University of North Carolina at Chapel-Hill and academic institutions across our country will find the smart, easy and honest ways to outmaneuver Justices Clarence Thomas and John Roberts. THE FIGHT GOES ON!!!

Patrick Diamond

SED ‘72 & ‘73

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