Anti-affirmative action activists in Colorado presented 128,744 signatures to state authorities to include the initiative on the ballot and petition drives are under way in Arizona, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
The initiatives are spearheaded by Ward Connerly, a prominent affirmative action foe, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. Connerly, claiming he's raised about $1.5 million for the campaigns, said he sees the initiatives as the next step in his drive to end preferences.
"Without any doubt, we have to understand that race preferences are on the way out," said Connerly, a conservative black Republican who cites campaigns of presidential hopefuls Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., as examples of why preference plans aren't needed.
Opponents are using legal challenges and grass-roots organizing to keep the measures off the ballot or defeat them in November.
"We know that most Americans support equal opportunity," Wade Henderson, president of Leadership Conference on Civil Rights in Washington, told the Post. "They know that diversity is good for business, good for the classroom and ultimately good for the country."