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Community Voices: Comments on Supreme Court Affirmative Action Decision at International African Arts Festival



IAAF Organizers, L-R Bok-Keem Nyerere, Thabiti Jones, Shadidi B. Kinsey -Vice Chair NY NAKO, and Segun Shabaka, National Association of Kawaida Organizations.

Photos: Christopher Griffith

By Mary Alice Miller

Brenda Walker Operation Power Queens, New York

Brenda Walker Photo: Christopher Griffith

I was floored when I heard about it. This is a time when we are supposed to be coming into our own. So now they shut it down. This is where we are. Look at what they are doing with Critical Race Theory and try to act like racist people don’t exist. They put us in situations where it makes it harder for us to rise. We have done a lot. After the slavery period, there were towns that we built up and things that they never thought that we could do. It just goes to show what we can do as a people. If we can love one another, and support each other, we can rebuild anything. I am not surprised. This is who they are.

Winston Collymore Bronx, NY

Winston Collymore Photo:Christopher Griffith

It is a devastating opinion and it means that many of us who benefit now will not benefit. I am one who benefitted from affirmative action. That is our answer to what the Supreme Court has done. When I went away to school I would have not been accepted because I needed to have a certain score. The schools decided to allow me to take non-credit courses and when I performed appropriately allow me to matriculate. This was Howard University.


Rev.Herbert Daughtry Photo Christopher Griffith

Rev. Herbert Daughtry House of the Lord Church Brooklyn, NY

I am obviously angry, but not immobilized. This happened before. The 1857 Supreme Court decision ruled that black people had no rights that white people are bound to respect. Plessey vs Ferguson. 1898 when we were making dramatic progress the Supreme Court ruled separate but equal. The students need to be careful not to let their anger take over.  We are back to the drawing board. We have to keep on struggling, keep on fighting. Each stone is a stepping stone. We’ll be all right.

Lumumba  Bandele

Lumumba Bandele Photo: Christopher Griffith

Grassroots organizer

I think it is simultaneously evil, and diabolical, and it is aligned with the policies of the previous presidential administration that selected three conservative justices to sit on the court. It is aligned with what we knew was going to happen when they were appointed. It’s enraging and disappointing but it also calls for more direct action and grassroots organizing. There are people calling for changing the structure of the Supreme Court. Affirmative action was just one. We know that they put a stop to student loan forgiveness. America is going to continue to do what America has been doing.

Stella Fitzpatrick

Stella Fitzpatrick with 3 grandchildren

Originally from Brooklyn, now living in NJ

I think it is ridiculous. I think that all those justices except for maybe one or two need to retire. You can’t reverse history. You can improve on it. We’re not going anywhere. We are here. We built this country. That building they sit in, we built that. They think they can reverse this and reverse that. No. We have the power. They think they have the power, but we have the power. And we are not going to stand for it. At the end of the day god sees it all.


Kya & Nia

I think it is taking away space and giving space to those who have.

It is very scary to me that it can be taken away from me. I am about to start the college application process. It is another stressor added to the stressors of graduating and looking to college.  


I think the decision is scary. I am only a sophomore but when I go to college I want the opportunity to be there for me.



Marion Photo: Christopher Griffith

It is going to hurt us in the long run. I try to stay out of politics but I disagree with the decision. We need more people who support affirmative action. But maybe it is going to help the historically Black colleges and universities. We always try to integrate. We should come back home. Then we can build strong foundations instead of depending on other people for our destiny.

Miss C

Brooklyn, NY

My first reaction is it is taking us back to the 1950s. I couldn’t believe this is actually happening although I knew it would because it is a conservative court. But, it is still shocking. I am not sure where this is going to go from this point on especially if we as a people step up and say something and shout and scream and do whatever it is we need to do to let people know they cannot get away with this. We can’t change what happened, unfortunately. Give me equal education for everyone. When we compare our schools with schools in white communities you are not going to get the same education, regardless of what they say. Our children are intelligent, we don’t get the same type of resources.

Lynette Townsley Queens, NY


We are on the wrong side of history. Affirmative action helps people be fair and just, especially for the African diaspora to help us get some form of equity. Only through affirmative action could people make better decisions because they don’t have the same lived experiences or know people of African descent. We can see Black excellence at the festival. We are due human rights in this Unites States. I am hoping that it is overturned and that we get reparations.


Marlon Photo: Christopher Griffith

I think they are seeing it as if everything is going to be even across the board. I understand the whole idea of you don’t want to give preferential treatment, but there are still people who are going to get preferential treatment in other areas. I think it is a bad decision that is going to move us further back.

Omowale Clay

Omawale Clay December 12th Movement

I think the attack on affirmative action is part and parcel of the mood in this country. Years ago they wanted to take us out of the picture. There is a consolidation of the most right-wing sector of the ruling class in this country and you can see its expression in attacks on the most vulnerable. It had to deny our reality to justify removing affirmative action which never fully dealt with our situation. It is a dangerous situation. I think it will help spur on the reparations movement and give people a real understanding of their history in this country and give us an arsenal to fight for our rights.

Richard Raw, Wilmington, Delaware

Richard Raw Photo Christopher Griffith

Our people will suffer. When we look at the condition of our people, reparations have to be paid. It has not been paid. I think it is a tool that we can use to improve our plight.

Assiyah Obrien

Assiyah Obrien

Originally from NY, now living in Florida

I was shocked. I have a sister trying to get into Ivy League and I know the process Black women go through trying to get into schools like that. Knowing that it is going to get harder to get in those spaces is going to set us back and make it harder to get where we are trying to go. I was definitely hurt but you cannot stop black power. We are going to get in one way or another.

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