50 Years of MDCR #5: US District Judge Linda Parker… (video)

50 Years of MDCR#5: US District Judge Linda Parker on Affirmative Action and More (video)oakland115 reiki

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Oct. 3, 2014)

For the Honorable Linda Parker, being appointed to US District Court Judge by President Barack Obama was an historical moment in her life and for her family. But it was the fact that her Senate confirmation was not unanimous.

“I know that I did not get a 99 and 0 vote. There were four from Michigan who were nominated and the three excluding me got through with like a 97 to 0. But I had 37 people voting no,” Parker said. “And I got so many text messages from the civil rights community saying to wear those 37 no votes with honor. It would have been very troubling if you got through with unanimous support… Let me be very clear that my civil rights background was a problem for the US Senate.”

gallowaycollens1Parker was one of about a dozen speakers at the 50 Years of Michigan Department of Civil Rights Symposium in September held at Wayne State Law School’s Keith Center. The event celebrated the diversity of people impacted by civil rights activism, successes of the MDCR, and the struggles faced now and in the future. Parker had served as a Commissioner on the MDCR and she spoke about her appointment which was confirmed by the Senate in March. Prior to that she was a judge of the 3rd Circuit Court’s Criminal Division in Wayne County, and also a partner at Dickinson Wright Law.

Parker worked on many issues in her time with MDCR, but one that has stood out, and caused some of the contention with Senators, was advocating for Affirmative Action. She said that many of the questions in her petsittingappointment process had to do with Affirmative Action, including the ban passed by voters in 2006, and the subsequent appeals process. The fight went all the way to the Supreme Court, where the ultimate decision did not go her way.

“The finding in that case was that Proposal 2, the voice of the people, that has to stand, as raggedy as that ballot initiative process was,” Judge Parker said. “The bottom line was the Supreme Court found that the bottom line was the Supreme Court found that the people had spoken so they could not overturn the vote of the people. So there is more work to be done…

“It was a good fight and a very revealing time in Michigan… I think we had more conversations about racial justice, about equality, about equality for women too because it was not obviously just a situation seed06_kat_bruner_jamesdealing with people of color, it was also dealing with women.”

Parker talked about two main components of civil rights, racism and systematic injustice in terms of the economy, in the prison system and education. In her time as Judge in Wayne County she found a common thread among criminal defendants that transcended racial boundaries. She noticed that most men in trouble with the law had not gotten past the 10th grade in school.

Racially there is still a long way for society to go. “Overt racism is still there,” she said. “We know that under-representation of individuals of color on the police force in Ferguson [MO, where HowesLocationprotests occurred after a white police officer shot an unarmed black person] that came out. But also what came out with that was some conversation that a black female officer had that was interviewing to see if she wanted to become a part of that police department, and the question was raised…” Paraphrasing, Judge Parker said that the woman had been asked how she would respond to hearing a racial slur used by fellow cops. “Not ‘if,’ but ‘when,” she said.

Near the end of Judge Parker’s speech she left the audience with a powerful point, stating that since 2006 when the ban on Affirmative Action began, from 2006-2012 the African American student population plummeted by 33%, while the numbers of people attending universities overall increased by 10%. “So we can figure that out,” she said.

Over the next couple of weeks, the Oakland County 115 News Hub will share video and stories from the symposium inctechad our series: 50 Years of MDOC.

Learn more about the MDCR at http://www.michigan.gov/mdcr.

Learn more about the Keith Center at http://keithcenter.wayne.edu/

For other stories in this series see:

http://oaklandcounty115.com/2014/09/26/50years-of-mdcr-4-mel-larsen-speaks-on-adding-lgbt-protection-to-civil-rights-act-video/ http://oaklandcounty115.com/2014/09/25/50-years-of-mdcr-3-chris-king-of-st-louis-american-on-covering-ferguson-protest-video/

http://oaklandcounty115.com/2014/09/23/50-years-of-mdcr-2-speaking-on-the-future-kamilia-landrum-video/

http://oaklandcounty115.com/2014/09/21/50-years-of-mdcr-stories-of-civil-rights-in-michigan/

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