In yet another turnaround from the progressive history and grand traditions of the University of North Carolina, the system’s Board of Governors on Friday banned the UNC Center for Civil Rights from litigating on behalf of the poor and minorities and other good causes. It was a despicable action, reflecting the right-wing politics of the Republican board members, who rationalized this action against a center founded by the civil rights pioneer Julius Chambers by saying the center should concentrate on academics.
The center’s lawyers worked with law students and private attorneys in cases often protecting those who could not protect themselves, sometimes against big corporations or other powerful entities.
Even as they were taking this blatantly ideological, partisan action, some of those who wanted to hinder the center claimed it wasn’t about going against the civil rights mission. Save that, please. Ridiculous.
It was a sorry day in Chapel Hill, coming after Board of Governors members had fought among themselves over governance and structural issues, and managed in the process to likely destroy the public’s confidence in the governing board of the people’s university system.
The center did important work, which is why this slap against it – its future is now uncertain – got national attention within minutes of the board’s action. How nice. Another black eye for North Carolina, thanks to partisan Republicans.