PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Reports that the Trump Administration is beefing up the civil rights division to investigate affirmative action programs at colleges and universities is getting strong reaction.
Affirmative action programs were created in the 1960's to remedy the effects of past segregation and racism against black students, but the Department of Justice under the Trump Administration could now argue that those programs are being used as reverse racism against white students.
"This has Steve Bannon's fingerprints all over it, we will fight this," says Rodney Muhammad, president of the Philadelphia NAACP. He believes the DOJ effort will re-segregate American higher education. "If you want people of color to be separate then we have a right to demand equal funding and support for our institutions."
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) promised a strong response per a statement by Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel:
"From Brown v. Board of Education to Fisher v. UT Austin, LDF has fought to ensure that every child is afforded an equal opportunity to succeed, and we will bring the full force of the law if this Justice Department attempts to resegregate our institutions of higher learning."
NJ NAACP Vice President Loretta Winters says the announcement breeds fear.
"It's very scary," says Winters, "it's scary for the generations that are coming forward about what opportunities will be available for them."
Penn Law professor Kermit Roosevelt says the DOJ civil rights division was originally created to protect racial minorities from discrimination. While the agenda changed with the political party in office, the office has not been used to push for "racial equality" for white people.
"It's very strange to me that now their mission to end affirmative action," says Roosevelt.
He predicts the DOJ's focus on affirmative action will have a "chilling effect," and will cause some schools to voluntary end the use of such programs.
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