Brooke Kimbrough’s rejection by the University of Michigan (U-M) for a slot in next year’s freshman class has brought out the fight in the 17-year-old Detroit student.

She has accepted a challenge to publicly debate race-based college admissions with a seasoned veteran of the matter, Jennifer Gratz, the founder and CEO of the anti-affirmative-action XIV Foundation.

Details of the encounter between the Black high school senior and Gratz, the White victor in a landmark 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning U-M’s pro-minority affirmative action policy, have not been set. But, following an April 21 ruling by the high court upholding a Michigan law banning race-based admissions, Kimbrough said that she is ready for a verbal rumble.

“It’s important to talk about this,” said Kimbrough, according to The Detroit News.

“This woman has challenged me, and I want to talk about it. It’s important to talk about. And I am interested in hearing what she has to say.”

The challenge was issued after Kimbrough held a news conference and led a rally April 15 at U-M’s Ann Arbor, Mich. campus to protest the policies that led to her rejection, as well as others of her application.

“I fervently believe in Black equality,” Kimbrough explained in a statement. “I believe that our public university system should provide a pathway for opportunity for underrepresented minority communities. I am appealing my application to the University of Michigan not only for myself, but for other Black and minority students who deserve the equal opportunity to go to the best public university in the nation.”

Kimbrough is a part of a pro-affirmative action organization called BAMN, which stands for “By Any Means Necessary.”

Gratz said she wants to confront the teen’s belief that race matters in college admissions and to underscore that Michigan voters in 2006 endorsed a ban on affirmative action in higher education.

“ Ms. Kimbrough has publicly demanded that the university should discriminate against other applicants in order to accommodate her demand for preferential treatment based on her skin color,” Gratz says in her challenge. “Her very public position contrasts with that of voters who adopted a ban on racial policies in 2006. I hope Ms. Kimbrough is willing to let Michiganders consider her position on this issue in a debate.”

Kimbrough, a senior at University Preparatory Academy in Detroit, is currently president of her school’s National Honor Society and a member of the debate team, which recently won the Urban Debate National Championship.

Kimbrough also noted that her U-M application includes an academic record that features a 3.6 grade-point average and a score of 23 out of a possible 36 on the ACT, a widely used college prep test.


Jonathan Hunter

AFRO Staff Writer