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The Black Leadership Forum, a national coalition of elected officials, attorneys, and business executives, has called on its members to work "aggressively" to prevent local governments from abolishing minority "set-aside" programs in the wake of a key Supreme Court decision on the issue.

In January, the Court ruled in the case of City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Company that local governments must find specific evidence of local racial discrimination in order to justify giving preferential treatment to minority-owned businesses. (See Education Week, Feb. 1, 1989.)

The ruling raised questions about the legal status of the wide variety of minority-preference policies adopted by school districts across the country.

The leadership group met in Atlantathis month to hammer out a response to the Croson decision. Benjamin L. Hooks, executive director of the n.a.a.c.p., told participants that the struggle to preserve set-asides "is obviously political, since elected officials have it within their purview to amend" existing programs.

In a related development, a contractors' association in Jacksonville, Fla., successfully petitioned a federal judge this month to temporarily overturn set-aside programs established by the city government and the Duval County school board.

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