In her first major address devoted solely to civil rights, Attorney General Janet Reno spoke at a Baptist church in Birmingham, Alabama about the continuing need for affirmative action to help women and people of color overcome discrimination. “We cannot say that we have completed our journey when even today blacks and Hispanics — and in many cases, women — still have a harder time getting into college, renting an apartment, getting a job, or obtaining a loan,” Reno said. “The next four years will see our continued attack on the legacy of discrimination that has created so much inequality and that continues to have a devastating impact on our society.”
Meanwhile, opponents of affirmative action and equal opportunity have created a group called the “American Civil Rights Institute” funded by foundations and individuals. Sacramento contractor Ward Connerly and others who led the fight to pass Proposition 209 in California, the measure aimed at outlawing affirmative action for women and people of color and gutting sex discrimination law, are behind the new organization. Founders and advisers include Thomas L. Rhodes, president of the conservative National Review, and Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist.