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BAMN stands for By Any Means Necessary, and its full name is the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights, and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary. It is a left-wing civil rights activist group that organizes demonstrations and litigation to achieve its aims, and it organizes primarily in colleges and K-12 schools.

Origins of BAMN[edit]

BAMN was originally formed in 1995 to oppose the July 20, 1995 decision by Regents of the University of California to ban affirmative action. In 1997, BAMN expanded to Michigan, where it organized student support for the affirmative action policy of the University of Michigan Law School at Ann Arbor (UMLS) as a result of a challenge to that policy via Grutter v. Bollinger. In Grutter, decided in 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of universities to consider race as one factor in a holistic, individualized admissions process. The majority opinion by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor stated: "Effective participation by members of all racial and ethnic groups in the civic life of our Nation is essential if the dream of one Nation, indivisible, is to be realized."


BAMN advocates "a national policy of affirmative action," the central theme of most major BAMN campaigns. BAMN's Principle #3 states,"BAMN is committed to making real America's founding declaration that 'all men are created equal.' Real equality of rights and opportunities for women and [minorities] requires active, positive measures, [as well as] a national policy of affirmative action."[1]

BAMN promotes the protection and expansion of civil rights for all under-represented classes throughout the United States, and is especially focused on challenges to minority students via the defense of historic affirmative action standards.

BAMN became one of 44 parties in the Supreme Court's Grutter v. Bollinger case concerning Michigan Law School admissions; BAMN's chief strategist was one of a 'record number' who filed an amicus brief in the case.[2]

The University of Michigan Law School case was heard at the same time as Gratz v. Bollinger, concerning racial admissions policies in the University of Michigan (U-M) undergraduate school. While the Law School system was allowed to proceed for the period of one generation, the undergraduate school's specific admissions policy was struck down.[3]

Since 1995, BAMN has organized a variety of college campaigns promoting affirmative action and defeat of contrary legislation written to end racial admissions policies.[4] BAMN's campaigns were not successful in the polls over three state initiatives curtailing strict racial quotas in three states: Michigan Prop. 2 'Civil Rights Initiative' (2006), California Prop. 209 (1996) and Washington State Washington Initiative 200 (1998). On April 1, 2003, BAMN spearheaded the organizing of the 50,000 person March on Washington to Defend Affirmative Action and Save Brown v. Board of Education (1954). A sign from this march was featured in the Smithsonian Museum's 2004 exhibit, "Separate Is Not Equal: Brown v. Board of Education," commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Brown decision.[5]

In 2008, BAMN met with success opposing the effort by former University of California Regent Ward Connerly effort to place ballot initiatives on five state ballots to end race-based affirmative action. In spring and summer 2008, BAMN organized press conferences and street education efforts in Arizona, Missouri, and Oklahoma to deter voters from signing petitions to qualify these initiatives for state ballots. Connerly withdrew his petition drives in Missouri and Oklahoma. In Arizona, the effort succeeded at preventing the campaign from gathering the required number of verified signatures.[6] A ballot initiative in Nebraska, the Nebraska Civil Rights Initiative, succeeded at the polls in November 2008. That same day in Colorado, an identical initiative was defeated, Colorado Amendment 46 (2008).

BAMN's major tactics center on extensive college and high school outreach via pamphleting, debate, speakers, film and rallies as well as social events. It has also been accused of using the methods of violence and intimidation. Critics of BAMN tactics state that the group creates 'mob' scenes where democratic processes have become overwhelmed and individuals threatened.[7][8] For example, in December 2005, BAMN disrupted a meeting of the Michigan State Board of Canvassers in which the Board voted to put a measure that would prohibit race-based preferential treatment in higher education on the November 2006 ballot. They did so by shouting down officials and overturning chairs and tables—a familiar tactic for the group.[9]

Conflict with law enforcement[edit]

In recent years, some actions by BAMN have been classified by the U.S Government to be terrorism.[10] The American Civil Liberties Union reported that the FBI placed BAMN on a terrorist list, despite "no mention of violent acts."[11] [12] [13] According to the FBI, the group's protests were discussed in a meeting about alleged links to terrorist organizations.[14] In response to the monitoring of BAMN and other nonviolent groups, the Executive Director of Michigan's ACLU Kary Moss said that the FBI "posed a 'threat to legitimate dissent.'" [15]

Recognition and awards[edit]

  • The Drum Major for Justice Award, American Association for Affirmative Action [16]
  • "Unsung Hero" Honor, Michigan chapter of National Lawyers Guild (2006) - (In The Struggle, Newsletter of the Detroit & Michigan Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, Vol. 3. No. 3, June 2006, page 5) [PDF link] [17]


  1. ^ BAMN Principles
  2. ^ Grutter v. Bollinger. pp. 137 F. Supp. 2d 821, 825 n.4 (E.D. Mich. 2001). 
  3. ^ Gratz v. Bollinger. pp. 539 U.S. 244 (2003). cf. External links. 
  4. ^ BAMN/AWAKE Efforts Succeed in Oklahoma / Ward Connerly Fraud Exposed / Anti-Affirmative Action Petitions Withdrawn!, BAMN Press Release 4/5/2008
  5. ^ "Changing Definitions of Equal Education: Brown v. Board of Education". Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Retrieved April 3, 2012. 
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ "Preferences Forever? The University of Michigan's president does her best George Wallace impersonation.". Opinion Journal. 2006-11-20. Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  8. ^ [2]
  9. ^ "Wham BAMN: Group stirs controversy in fight for civil rights.". Metro Times. 2006-01-11. Retrieved 2013-10-31. 
  10. ^ "Pentagon Exam Calls Protests 'Low-Level Terrorism,' Angering Activists". Fox News. June 17, 2009. Retrieved April 3, 2012. 
  11. ^ News Standard[dead link]
  12. ^ action foia document.pdf[dead link]
  13. ^ [3][dead link]
  14. ^ News Standard. 'terrorist activity' Archived September 28, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ News Standard. Archived December 23, 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "AAAA Awards: The Drum Major for Justice Award". American Association for Affirmative Action. 2009. Retrieved April 3, 2012. 
  17. ^ [4][dead link]

External links[edit]

  • BAMN website
  • Text of Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003) is available from:  LII 
  • Text of Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244 (2003) is available from:  LII