Document Type


Publication Date



This article uses Critical Race Theory methodologies, such as autobiographical narratives, and analytical approaches, such as revising the history of the civil rights struggle, especially as it applies to the Chicano-Latino communities. This paper represents a student-faculty collaboration in that the students organized the conference at which some of this analysis was first proposed. This was the conference at which now Justice Sonia Sotomayor made her now iconic comments about being a "wise Latina." People can't get to be judges without first going to law school, and Latinas/as can't get to law school, at least in significant numbers, without affirmative action. With very few exceptions, the roomful of judges, law professors, lawyers and law students we saw over the past two days did not get to be where they are without affirmative action. When we fight for affirmative action, we fight for access to the legal profession; we fight to be public policymakers. Thus, fighting for affirmative action is a righteous struggle. It is about the well-being of our communities. It is about having a place at the table. It is about self-determination. It is about justice -- social justice, distributive justice and substantive justice. Affirmative action is the vortex of the civil rights struggle for this generation. I applaud your efforts and your struggles. I applaud you for organizing this conference on affirmative action. I would like to review and reclaim some of the struggles and the victories the Chicano/a communities have experienced in challenging segregated schools in the Southwest. I want to put to rest the idea that we Chicanas/os have no claim upon desegregation as a public policy to remove the vestiges of the de jure and de facto discriminatory policies and practices of the past. Finally, I want to excavate the legal history that demonstrates that the Chicana/o communities played a central role in dismantling the legal architecture that supported the separate and unequal school systems throughout the Southwest.

Publication Title

Berkeley La Raza Law Journal





First Page



LSAT, Critical Race Theory, Affirmative Action, Justice, Chicano, Segregated Schools, desegregation, de facto, de jure, student activism, SALT, Grutter v. Bollinger



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.