Race & Racism at the University of Richmond

Speech and Correspondence by Leonard J. Theberge to E. Bruce Heilman

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Speech and Correspondence by Leonard J. Theberge to E. Bruce Heilman


This is a letter written by Leonard J. Theberge who was the President of the National Legal Center for the Public Interest in Washington D.C. to the President of the University of Richmond, E. Bruce Heilman. The NLCPI was founded in 1975 as a conservative think tank whose primary purpose was to lobby against affirmative action programs, and strongly opposed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The letter thanks President Heilman for letting President Theberge give a speech to the American Association of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities and says that the speech in enclosed. Theberge concludes by asking Heilman to bring to his attention any "government imposed reverse discrimination situations."

In accompanying the six page speech, Theberge begins by quoting former Department of Health, Education (HEW) and Welfare Secretary Caspar Weinberger on the real purpose of equal opportunity. In a section entitled "Government Perverts Objective," Theberge outlines his purpose: "There is in our society a broad based consensus which supports the rightness of and the need for equal employment opportunities for all Americans regardless of their color, race, religion or sex. Yet today in attempting to implement a federal program to insure this national goal, various agencies of that government have perverted the original objective, encouraged discriminatory quotas, created confusion and alienated a large segment of the public...I shall review the legislative, administrative and judicial highlights of affirmative action, trace its development, explain what NLCPI is doing and attempt to offer a possible remedy to this problem."

In the following pages, Theberge condemns current federal efforts towards affirmative action, claiming that efforts by the government to uphold the Civil Rights Act of 1964, calling it "an abuse of power by the federal government." He goes on to outline the Bakke case by citing previous cases around racial discrimination, including Brown v. Board and Loving v. Virginia. He outlines the plan of NLCPI as follows: 1. Creating a "positive alternative program" for affirmative action in higher education, 2. Mobilizing conversations on campuses "to encourage open discussion about current abuses," 3. Establishing goals and timetables for lobbying for an alternative program, and 4. Developing a "litigation strategy and capability that will insure that the judicial branch of government receives the best legal briefs that can be prepared."


Speech and Correspondence by Leonard J. Theberge to E. Bruce Heilman, 23 December 1976, R.G. 6.2.5 Box 25 Folder 4, University Archives, Virginia Baptist Historical Society.









Richmond (Va.)

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Theberge, Leonard, J., “Speech and Correspondence by Leonard J. Theberge to E. Bruce Heilman,” Race & Racism at the University of Richmond, accessed October 27, 2020, https://memory.richmond.edu/items/show/2242.