A coalition of education and civil rights leaders in Maryland today said the outcome of the controversial Bakke case should not be allowed to disrupt the traditional civil rights alliance of blacks and Jews.
The coalition, acting under the sponsorship of the National Conference of Christians and Jews' Maryland chapter, said it found "strong and rational arguments' on both sides of the case, but was disturbed by the inflammatory rhetoric that has surrounded it.
"The controversy over this case has already created serious divisions within the ranks . . . and threatened irreparable damage to the delicate fabric of race relations in this country," the coalition said in a statement released in Baltimore yesterday. "We view with grave concern the possible breach of trust that could result from any decision the Supreme Court might reach."
The Bakke case, heard by the Supreme Court on Oct. 9. concerns whether a state university can take race into account in an admissions program. The rhetoric of the case has been dominated by words such as "reverse discrimination," "affirmative action" and "racial quotas."
"We hope that when the Supreme Court issues its decision, whatever that may be, that all sides react reasonablyY," said Mary Ann Travers, director of the Maryland chapter of the conference. "We urge that there be no gloating or recriminatory public statements."
The statement from Baltimore was signed by 10 Maryland civic leaders, including Dr. Calvin Burnett, president of Coppin State College; Enolia McMillan, president of the Baltimore NAACP; Stanley Sollins, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, and Judge Robert B. Watts of the Supreme Bench of Baltimore.
Harry Robinson, the national director of the conference of Christians and Jews, said he was "heartened" by the action of his Maryland chapter, the first in the country, he said, to make a statement on the Bakke case.
Robinson, a black, said that although several Jewish organizations - including the American Jewish Commitee and the American Jewish Congress - have filed briefs opposing the use of race as a factor in admissions, he has not noticed a split in his organization.