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Affirmative Action

Floridians Representing Equity and Equality (F.R.E.E.)

If you are a Floridian, a woman or an ethnic minority concerned about the state of your equality, now is the time to address this issue by actively seeking involvement in challenging those who have started an anti-affirmative action crusade in Florida.

Floridians are being misled, deceived and confused into believing that an anti-affirmative action measure called the Florida Civil Rights Initiative supports equality and ends discrimination.

Not so! If passed, the Florida Civil Rights Initiative would make any government-sponsored program targeted to help minorities and women illegal.

That is why Floridians Representing Equity and Equality, a grassroots coalition, is working to preserve affirmative action by challenging the anti-affirmative action ballot initiative.

FREE￿s mission is to educate the people of Florida about the importance of preserving and protecting current legislation that ensures equal opportunity in employment, education, housing, procurement, and contracting opportunities for all Floridians.

Made up of over 20 groups throughout the state of Florida, FREE￿s membership includes the Florida Association of Minority Business Enterprise Officials (FAMBEO), Florida State Conference of Branches, NAACP, the Florida National Organization for Women, Inc, FL NOW, League of United Latin American Citizens, the Florida Chapter of the National Bar Association, the Florida Women￿s Consorium, and the Filipino-American Political Aggregation.

FREE is working hard to educate and register voters, build coalitions, raise funds, and create its own ballot language to make sure Florida does not face the same devastating effects of Ward Connely￿s crusades. Connely, a black California businessman and founder of the American Civil rights Institution, has successfully led drives to eliminate affirmative action programs in California and Washington. Now he has his sights set on Florida.

California's Proposition 209 instantly reduced minority student enrollment in California￿s public university system, and Washington's I-200 misled people by casting affirmative action exclusively in racial terms.

These initiatives were not passed because the voters of these states wanted to end affirmative action. They were passed because Connerly presented a sham and created confusion for voters by using deceptive and misleading language on the ballot. FREE will give voters an alternative.

Connerly, the Florida Association of General Contractors of America, and other supporters of the Florida Civil rights Initiative would like for everyone to believe that racism and prejudice has ended. This in not true. FREE has compiled statistical data showing that there continues to be great disparity between race and gender when economic status and social opportunities are measured.

Affirmative action is not a racial or minority preference program. It is not about quotas, set-asides, or programs that allow the hiring of unqualified people for jobs, admitting unqualified people to college, or receiving underserving contracts. The citizens of California and Washington were duped into to believing this is true.

Affirmative action is about opening the door of opportunity and giving equal and fair opportunities to women and minorities so they can compete for public jobs, have access to good colleges, and fair competition for government contracts. Other opponents of the Florida Civil Rights Initiative include the Republican Party of Florida, who said it would not support or endorse the anti-affirmative action initiative should it be placed on the 2000 ballot. Al Cardenas, chairman, said, The effects of ending affirmative action will spark emotional turbulence fracturing communities, drawing racial lines and will forever change the heart and soul of Florida.

Governor Jeb Bush said the effort is divisive and will spawn bitterness that will divide Florida by race and ethnicity while keeping the state from focusing and building the consensus necessary to solve the many critical issues facing us.

FREE will continue to work to ensure the voters of Florida will have adequate education on affirmative and fair chance to voice their opinion on this issue. But we can not do it alone. FREE needs the citizens of Florida to help educate others in Florida about affirmative action, to help fight to preserve affirmative action and to help finance the campaign. This is an equal opportunity to take action that will benefit you. Minorities and all citizens in the state of Florida.