Obama, defeat of anti-affirmative action ballot mark MLK Day

Some in Colorado remembered the sacrifices of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. a bit early, on Election Day, rather than the national holiday to commemorate his life.

The election of the nation’s first African-American president overshadowed another step forward in the struggle for equality — the defeat of Amendment 46, which would have rolled back decades of civil rights law.

In an exclusive interview with affirmative-action foe Ward Connerly, The Colorado Independent examines the ballot measure’s loss and the crumbling of the conservative movement’s aim to dismantle civil rights protections state-by-state.

“Contrary to what is said, I don’t need this for my financial well-being. I don’t need it for my psychological well-being,” he added, referring to an allegation that he paid himself $7 million from the two nonprofits that funded his Super Tuesday for Equal Rights campaign. Connerly spent more than $350,000 in Colorado this year, according to campaign finance reports.

But rather than continue the fight against racial preferences, Connerly said he will focus on reforming the criminal justice system. He has developed a passion for the issue because, he said, “I know someone for whom I have great affection who is in this situation. I had to learn a lot more about the system than I ever knew before.”

Connerly also said that Obama’s supporters in Colorado likely turned out against his initiative. “I believe that when you have a self-professed, quote, progressive running for president, and he is trying to turn out votes, well, on Election Day a number of those who never voted before were black, Latino and young. That’s what the exit polls clearly showed. Those people are more likely to be opposed to ending what is loosely called affirmative action. I think that is just indisputable.”

Connerly acknowledged the import of Obama’s victory: “This is a defining moment in American history, especially for black people. I didn’t cry as Jesse Jackson did Tuesday night as he witnessed this marvelous, marvelous moment with Sen. Obama making his acceptance speech. I didn’t cry. But I can understand the tears. My heart sang as much as everyone else’s.”

Read the complete story: After Colorado loss, Ward Connerly may pull the plug on affirmative-action bans.

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