A group of Obama Administration cabinet officials are joining the fight to level the playing field in California by endorsing Proposition 16. Former Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, Education Secretaries Arne Duncan and John B. King Jr., and United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice announced their support for the measure to end California’s ban on affirmative action. They join Los Angeles County Supervisor and former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and former University of California President and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who previously endorsed Prop 16.
Proposition 16 appears on the ballot at a time when women in California still earn less than 80 cents for every dollar a white man makes, while Black women earn 61 cents on the dollar and Latinas just 42 cents. Meanwhile, due to long-standing disparities in health care and the economy, nearly half of the more than 12,000 Californians killed by the virus are Latino, and Black people are 5 times more likely to be hospitalized or to die from COVID-19 than white people.
“Donald Trump and his allies are doing everything they can to dismantle affirmative action – one of our most powerful tools to level the playing field for women and people of color. But this November, voters in California have the power to stand against systemic racism and sexism, and move our country closer to our founding promise of equal opportunity. By voting yes on Proposition 16, Californians can end the ban on affirmative action and ensure everyone has a fair shot at success,” said Eric H. Holder, Jr., the 82nd Attorney General of the United States.
“From suspensions of preschoolers to segregated college campuses, the stain of discrimination and systemic racism is visible at every level of American education. By voting yes on Prop 16 to end the ban on affirmative action, California voters can take a powerful step toward equal opportunity for every student,” said former Education Secretaries Arne Duncan and John B. King Jr. in a joint statement.
“This is a time to take sides,” Ambassador Susan Rice wrote on Twitter Tuesday afternoon. “I’m proud to stand with so many progressive and civil rights leaders on the side of justice and equality and against hatred and division by supporting Proposition 16 in California.”
The Obama Administration officials join hundreds of prominent current and former elected officials, activists, and advocacy groups including Senator Kamala Harris, Governor Newsom, founders of Black Lives Matter, Bernice King, Dolores Huerta, the NAACP, and the ACLU.