042114 Brooke Kimbrough

Brooke Kimbrough just knew she was getting accepted to the University of Michigan, after all the 17-year-old senior had received a deferred admission letter through the early action program. But she subsequently received a letter of rejection. And so she decided to hold a news conference and rally to protest the decision.

“I fervently believe in black equality,” Kimbrough says 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.”

At Tuesday’s rally, Kimbrough also promised to publicize rejection letters to other minority students until she receives a spot in the school’s upcoming freshman class.

“I have left the plantation to get my freedom but I am coming back for you too,” she says in a Fox 2 Detroit video.

Kimbrough, a University Preparatory Academy student in Detroit, had a 3.6 GPA and scored a 23 out of 36 on the ACT standardized test. Although her scores are considered slightly below average – students in the fall 2013 class earned an average 3.85 GPA and a 29-33 ACT score – Kimbrough is a well-rounded student having been a member of University Prep’s award-winning debate team, president of the school’s National Honor Society chapter, and a participant in a youth leadership program at Alternatives for Girls, a Detroit nonprofit.

However, the university claims to already evaluate each application holistically. But the school is banned from applying its points-based affirmative action policy to undergraduate students.

In 2003, Jennifer Gratz won a landmark ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court against U-M’s affirmative action policy after arguing that minority students who had achieved less academically were admitted. In 2006, almost 60 percent of Michigan voters approved a ban against affirmative action in higher education and government contracting. But in June, the Supreme Court will decide whether the 2006 ban in public colleges and universities is constitutional.

Gratz is now the CEO of an anti-affirmative action organization she founded. She challenges Kimbrough publicly debate whether affirmative action should be allowed in college admissions.

“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 the statement. “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.”

Despite surrounding skepticism that a seasoned professional plans to test a high school senior’s debate skills, Kimbrough is still up for the challenge.

“It’s important to talk about this,” says Kimbrough, per 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.”


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