Shanta Driver has been organizing for civil rights for over 35 years. She graduated in Psychology and Social Relations from Harvard in 1975, and graduated from Wayne State University Law School in 2002. Ms. Driver is currently an attorney at Scheff, Washington & Driver, a leading Detroit civil rights and labor law firm.
Ms. Driver is the National Chair for the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) and the National Director of BAMN’s non-profit affiliate, United for Equality and Affirmative Action Legal Defense Fund (UEAALDF).
Ms. Driver was the legal architect of the successful student intervention into Grutter v Bollinger, the University of Michigan Law School affirmative action case in which affirmative action was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003. BAMN spearheaded the 50,000-person March on Washington to Defend Affirmative Action and Save Brown v Board of Education on April 1, 2003, which played a key role in the Grutter victory. Ms. Driver is now heading up the legal team challenging the constitutionality of state bans on affirmative action in BAMN v. Granholm and BAMN v. Schwarzenegger. . BAMN and UEAALDF also successfully intervened in a lawsuit which upheld the voluntary desegregation program in the Los Angeles Unified School District in 2007.
Under Ms. Driver’s dynamic leadership, BAMN has also become a leader of the movement for immigrant rights that burst into the streets in the Spring of 2006 with student walkouts and mass demonstrations demanding equal rights for all who live and work in the United States.
BAMN has also been active in the fight to defend public K-12 education in predominantly black and Latino/a urban districts through campaigns to stop state-takeovers and school closures and to prevent the privatization of public education through the proliferation of charters and market-based educational methods. BAMN student leaders, under Ms. Driver’s direction, have played an important role in the student movement that has grown on the campuses of the University of California to fight tuition/fee hikes, program cuts and attacks on the living standards of campus workers.
BAMN leadership was key in building the mass movement against police brutality that forced the prosecution and conviction of Johann Mehserle, the Oakland BART police officer who executed Oscar Grant, an unarmed young black man as he lay face down and unresisting on a subway platform two years ago. While the minimal sentence given Mehserle by the presiding judge was criminally inadequate, this was the first time a California police officer had even been arraigned on murder charges for an on-duty killing in over 15 years.
Ms. Driver is frequently invited to speak on the contemporary challenges to civil rights and specifically on the challenges to affirmative action and K-12 integration. She has addressed scores of civil rights, professional, religious, political and governmental organizations, including The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; The National Alliance of Black School Educators; the U.S. Department of Transportation; the Missouri Department of Natural Resources; the A. Phillip Randolph Institute; Rainbow/PUSH Coalition; NAACP National Convention; Tavis Smiley Foundation Youth2Leaders Conference; National Bar Association; American Sociological Association; Americans for Democratic Action; the Progressive National Baptist Convention; the National Organization for Women; and the Society of American Law Teachers.
She has been a guest speaker on affirmative action at hundreds of colleges and universities, including Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard; Howard, NYU Law School, Stanford; UC Berkley School of Law; UCLA; University of Pennsylvania; University of Southern California and Yale.
She has been a featured guest on public television’s “American Black Journal” and “Am I Right?” as well NBC4 LA’s “News Conference” and “Fox and Friends”. She has also been a guest on several prominent radio talk shows, such as Democracy Now, Tavis Talks and The Tom Joyner Show.
Among the awards she has received are the American Association for Affirmative Action Rosa Parks Award; the Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth Humanitarian Award, National Society of Black Engineers “Fulfilling the Vision of Tomorrow” Award and the National Lawyers Guild-Detroit Unsung Hero Award.