UEAALDF was founded on two principles established in Brown v Board of Education

  • Separate can never be equal
  • Integration is fundamental to democracy

UEAALDF is dedicated to fighting for educational integration and equal, quality education for all on both national and local levels. Its methods for achieving these goals include educational outreach, intervening in civil rights litigation, initiating related educational and sociological research, and organizing public rallies and mass petition campaigns to focus public attention and increase support for educational integration. The organization also conducts educational outreach programs at high schools and college campuses and sponsors bi-annual symposia on the issues of affirmative action, integration and education.

UEAALDF is a non-profit, 501(C)3 organization whose work is directed by a Board made up of educators, attorneys and activists.

UEAALDF’s Diverse Membership:

UEAALDF's Board of Directors and day-to-day leadership, as well as the participants in its conferences, rallies and other activities are unique in their integrated racial composition (about 60% black and other minority, 40% white), and in the prominence of women on the leadership team. UEAALDF is also remarkable for its success in organizing and providing leadership training to high school youth, who played a central role in the last civil rights movement, and yet are often overlooked as a potential pool of talented organizers.


United for Equality and Affirmative Action Legal Defense Fund (UEAALDF) is a tax-exempt 501(C)3 organization that was founded to direct the efforts of the 41 black, Latino, Asian, Arab and white students and three civil rights organizations who became co-defendants (intervenors) in the landmark University of Michigan Law School affirmative action case, Grutter v. Bollinger. This legal case, along with the companion case regarding the University of Michigan undergraduate college, was reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court on April 1, 2003. On the day of the hearing, United for Equality for Affirmative Action was a leading part of a coalition of civil rights organizations who mobilized over 50,000 people from around the country to the hearing to demonstrate our support for affirmative action and integration.

The implications of the University of Michigan rulings are as significant to racial equality and race relations as was the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision to outlaw state-sanctioned segregation (Jim Crow laws) in Brown v. Board of Education. With the conclusion of Grutter v. Bollinger, which resulted in a historic victory for civil rights, UEAALDF will now pursue a legal challenge to California’s Proposition 209, the law that still bans affirmative action in that state.

UEAALDF did not rest after its Supreme Court victory in Grutter v. Bollinger. In 2004, UEAALDF intervened in Avila v. Berkeley Unified School District and played a key role in the dismissal of a lawsuit seeking to overturn Berkeley’s historic desegregation plan. In January 2006 UEAALDF became an intervenor in American Civil Rights Foundation v. Los Angeles Unified School District, a pending case brought by Ward Connerly to eliminate the modest magnet school and permission-with-transfer desegregation programs in our nation’s largest public school district. In October 2006 UEAALDF filed an amicus brief in the Louisville and Seattle desegregation cases that are pending before the U.S. Supreme Court [click for brief - Abode PDF file].

UEAALDF has also brought a constitutional challenge to Proposal 2, the ban on affirmative action in Michigan, which, if successful, will overturn California’s Proposition 209 and Washington State’s I-200 and end the current series of attacks on affirmative action.

Our History

UEAALDF was founded in 1997, when the Center for Individual Rights sued the University of Michigan Law School and undergraduate college for its use of affirmative action in admissions. The founders of UEAALDF included two civil rights coalitions and forty-one black, Latino, Asian, Arab and white students who became individually named intervenor-defendants in the case. These students and veteran civil rights organizers understood that the University of Michigan affirmative action cases posed both a great danger as well as a great opportunity for society. The choice was clear: take a stand and build a collective fight to defend affirmative action, integration and the other gains of the civil rights movement, or return to a system of separate and unequal educational opportunities.

The founders of UEAALDF view the assault on affirmative action program and desegregation programs as the ‘edge of the wedge’ of a broader attack on the civil rights gains of the last half-century. We understand that the legal cases cannot be won without a mass, grass-roots campaign to popularize the benefits of affirmative action to all of our society and to change the terms of the debate from that of "racial preferences" to the true issues of integration and equality.