Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Office of Civil Rights Nominee Faces Scrutiny. (Washington Update)

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Office of Civil Rights Nominee Faces Scrutiny. (Washington Update)

Article excerpt

A Senate panel questioned a major Bush administration civil rights nominee in late February amid signs that leading civil rights groups oppose the nomination.

Gerald Reynolds is the White House choice to fill the vacant slot of assistant education secretary responsible for the department's Office for Civil Rights. Reynolds, an African American, served as president and legal counsel for the Center for New Black Leadership, a conservative group. He also served as legal analyst for another conservative organization, the Center for Equal Opportunity. His private sector experience includes senior counsel at Kansas City Power and Light.

But Reynolds' past statements on civil rights enforcement are drawing criticism from many liberal-leaning organizations. People for the American Way, a Washington-based organization, is urging groups to oppose the nomination, and the NAACP also is against his selection.

"Reynolds has consistently called for the elimination of a variety of programs that have helped racial and ethnic minorities, as well as women, the elderly and disabled Americans," says Kweisi Mfume, NAACP's president and chief executive officer. "It is inconceivable that a person with such strong convictions should be charged with implementing and protecting the laws for which he has shown such contempt."

The NAACP is particularly concerned that Reynolds, if confirmed, would be responsible for enforcing many of the laws he already has criticized.

"Frankly, the NAACP finds Reynolds' stated views on equal opportunity programs, such as affirmative action, to be appalling," says Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP's Washington office.

But Reynolds outlined his support for civil rights in a recent appearance before Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and other members of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. …

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