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The Missouri Civil Rights Initiative is launching an "Anti-preference campaign". The group wants to put on the November 2008 ballot a proposal that would ban government sponsored race and gender preferences in Missouri. The ballot measure would end affirmative action and other programs that promote advancement for minorities and women. KSMU's Emily Nash talked with people from both sides of the issue and files this report.
Members of a group called The Missouri Civil Rights Initiative are promoting an "Ant-Preference Campaign".
They say they want to stop discrimination once and for all.
The group is gathering signatures in an effort to get the issue on the November 2008 ballot.
The initiative would ban preferential treatment based on race, gender, and ethnicity in state-sponsored programs.
Tim Asher is the executive director of the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative.
He says, many government sponsored institutions have not been enforcing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that originally banned discrimination in public programs.
Asher is the former director of admissions at North Central Missouri College and started this initiative when he says he saw preferential treatment given to minorities through multi-cultural scholarships.
Recently, Michigan passed a similar ballot measure that relates to public contracting, education, and employment.
Those who oppose the ballot initiative say it takes away the programs that help protect minorities and women against inevitable prejudices in society.
Reverend Larry Maddox is the president of the Springfield chapter of the NAACP.
Maddox says, diversity advancement programs, like affirmative action, give minorities an advantage to fight discrimination in public institutions.
Tim Asher from the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative says the ballot measure would not stop affirmative action programs all together.
He says the proposal would allow those affirmative action programs focused on economic status to remain.
To be included on the November ballot, the proposal needs about 150 thousand signatures.