TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Two months ago, more than 11,000 angry protesters marched here on Florida's Capitol to protest Gov. Jeb Bush's plan to end affirmative action in university admissions and state contracting.
Now the Florida governor is poised to sign legislation that would create two new law schools at the state's two public universities where African Americans and Hispanics make up a majority of students.
The Republican-controlled state Legislature, in the waning moments of its annual legislative session, unanimously passed a measure that allows Florida A&M University here and Florida International University in Miami to open their own law schools.
Black lawmakers were effusive and equated the bill in importance with 1994 legislation that compensated Black survivors of the Rosewood racial massacre in 1923.
"This is a surreal experience for me," says Sen. Daryl Jones, D-Miami, noting past opposition. "This is absolutely momentous."
Florida A&M, the state's lone public historically Black college, will open its law school in either Tampa or Orlando. It is currently the largest feeder of African American law school applicants in the state.
"Rarely in the history of the struggle for equality has a state had a greater opportunity than Florida to redress a social wrong and resurrect a people's faith in justice and fair …