Tennessee State Senator Jim Summerville (R-Dickson) has introduced legislation that would do away with diversity programs and minority preference in colleges and other areas in the Volunteer State.
Summerville’s bill, called the Civil Rights Initiative of 2013, is an attempt to do away with affirmative action programs that the Senator deems discriminatory to all residents and demeaning to minorities. Some key provisions in the bill would ban diversity officers on campus, abolish preference given by universities based on race and ethnicity, and prohibit the State from keeping race, gender or ethnicity statistics beyond what is required by Federal law.
“It’s a little demeaning I think to classify people in those categories. They might wonder ‘Am I here because I’m any good or am I here to fill a quota?’ So I think it’s time to let this go,” Summerville said.
While the bill has reportedly drawn a bevy of criticism from gay and lesbian groups in the State, its author argues that it would be appreciated by the leaders of America’s historic civil rights movement. Summerville told The Tennessean his bill was the “last battle of the civil rights movement.”
“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. hoped to live to see an America where his children would be judged ‘not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,’” Summerville said. “I think he’d be sad if he were among us today to see that this generation has failed in that hope.”
The State lawmaker has yet to find a sponsor for the bill, and policy wonks in Tennessee have given it little chance of surviving the legislative session.