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In 1996, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals outlawed the use of
race in admission at the University of Texas at Austin Law School in
Hopwood vs. Texas. Later that year, the U.S. Supreme Court
refused to hear the University’s appeal. As a result, Hopwood
became law for state colleges and universities in Texas, Louisiana and
Mississippi. Later that year, Dan Morales, then the Democrat Attorney
General of Texas, extended the impact of Hopwood. He issued an
opinion that outlawed the use of race in financial assistance decisions
also.

When the court rendered the Hopwood decision, many liberals
cried foul. They said that without separate but lower admissions
standards, blacks and Latinos could not qualify to attend the best
schools in Texas. They said that without race-based scholarships, other
states would lure Texas’ best students of color away with race-based
scholarships. They said that even if black and Latino students weren’t
smart enough to get into college on their own merits, they should be
admitted anyway because white students needed exposure to the
“diversity” of Texas. I called this the “zoo animal” argument at the
time.

Liberals said that without affirmative action, the public colleges
and universities of Texas would be re-segregated. They even claimed that
the end of affirmative action had created a hostile environment for
students of color. Every argument that liberals made for affirmative
action was based upon their heartfelt belief that black and Latino
students were just not as smart as whites. Every argument that liberals
used to attack Hopwood insulted the integrity, intelligence and
character of all Texans.

Three years have passed and I am proud to share with you the fruits
of our labor. We have proven that every argument thrown up by liberals
were racist lies.

The University of Texas at Austin has just admitted its second class
using race-neutral admission standards. According to Bruce Walker,
Admission Director at Texas, “The news here is that we’re back to
pre-Hopwood levels, in terms of real numbers of (black and Latino)
freshmen.” According to the Austin American Statesman, “The number of
black freshmen — 286 — this fall is up significantly from last year
and exceeds the 266 in 1996. UT enrolled 974 Hispanic freshmen this
fall, up from 891 last year and 932 in 1996.”

This is great news for America and bad news for liberals … which
makes it really good news for America. It is a testament to the hard
work of thousands of Texans who believed in the intelligence and
capability of all of our children. The University of Texas, at 49,034
students, is the largest public university in America. If we can do it
in Texas, you can do it in your state. It is time, my friends, to put a
stake through the heart of liberal racism.

How did the people of Texas expose the lies of liberal racists so
quickly? Even before the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the
Hopwood appeal, faculty, students, administrators and alumni, and
friends of the University of Texas redoubled their efforts to find
qualified black and Latino high school students. In the process, they
learned that 20 percent of the high schools in Texas had never sent a
student of any color to the University of Texas at Austin. This and
other revelations about the need for more aggressive recruitment
programs spurred the public and private sector to do more.

What did we do about the argument that Texas would become a hostile
environment for students of color? We held a press conference where
Ricky Williams, a black football player with dreadlocks announced that
he was going to give up becoming an NFL millionaire to return to the
University of Texas for his senior year. So much for the hostile
environment argument.

However, that was just the beginning. In 1997, Governor Bush and the
Texas legislature enacted the “Top 10 percent” law. This law gives all
students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their high school
automatic admission to any state-funded college or university in Texas.
Simultaneously, citizens of all colors created a privately funded
scholarship program for qualified black and Latino applicants. In
addition, the University of Texas at Austin established a permanent
recruiting office in Houston — Texas’ largest city — and expanded its
efforts in Dallas and San Antonio.

In 1999, the State of Texas created a Hope Scholarship program
to help children of all races from families that make less than $25,000
afford to go to college in Texas. Because of these new private and
public programs, all qualified applicants will receive the financial
assistance they need to attend the best universities in Texas.

Because of all of this activity, applications from black and Latino
students to the University of Texas at Austin in 1999 were the highest
they have been in a decade. This is a huge accomplishment given that
race-based affirmative action admission wasn’t outlawed until 1996.

Finally, Republicans and Democrats joined to ask the new Attorney
General of Texas, Republican John Cornyn, to review Dan Morales’
financial aid decision. This bipartisan group argued that since the
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals never mentioned financial aid in its
decision, Dan Morales had no authority to issue his expansive ruling. A
few weeks ago, Attorney General Cornyn agreed and vacated Dan Morales’
extensive expansion of Hopwood. Cornyn said that the attorney
general of Texas does not have the authority to substantially expand a
federal court of appeals’ decision. Cornyn said that only the U.S.
Supreme Court could expand Hopwood.

It is my prayer that what is happening in Texas will inspire all
Americans. The people of this great state have invested in their
children and rejected the racist theories of liberals. Republican and
Democrat legislators have joined hands to create programs that would
help all of Texas’ children. Students, faculty, administrators and
alumni of all colors have joined to recruit qualified students of color.
Thousands of Texans invested their personal dollars in the creation of a
private scholarship fund for qualified students of color. What is most
fascinating is that all of this is happening in a state where every
elected statewide official is a Republican.

We Texans have replaced affirmative action with a commitment that all
children, no matter their skin color, will have an equal chance to go to
college. We Texans have replaced affirmative action with a commitment to
improve the quality of education in Texas, to finally rid our state of
the lingering vestiges of centuries of institutional racism.

In Texas, we say that “What Texans can dream, Texans can do.” I
invite all of you to join us as we join hands to turn the dream of
equality of opportunity into a reality.

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