Interview with Mary Frances Berry

OK, and now I want you to think, um, back on the decision, when it came out, what did you think it augured, for Blacks and for the nation?


When the Bakke decision was handed down, I recall that there were some people in the civil rights and the education community who said, "We ought to put a good spin on it, and make it sound like the court didn't say you couldn't do affirmative action and you couldn't do any of these things," and I refused. Because it was clear to me that on an issue like civil rights and affirmative action, and the people who were hostile to doing anything to increase the number of Black students on our campuses anyway, and who had resisted the efforts, ah, at that time, that in fact, they could use this as a cover. Because when the Supreme Court says that you MAY do something, may means you may not do whatever it is, and leaving it up to people's discretion, I knew, just would not be good enough, and that in a thousand places in a thousand admissions offices and faculty offices and on campuses where those decisions were being made, people could say, "Well, you know, we'd like to help you, but, but, but look at the Bakke case."