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Mayor tells ADL struggle for equality continues

November 13, 2008 | 12:23 pm

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told leaders of the Anti-Defamation League today that "this is not just a historic time, but a critical time" in America, and that although the election of a black president signaled leaps and bounds in the struggle for equality, there is more work to be done.

"This is a time of optimism and hope, a time when we can truly say we overcame hurdles," Villaraigosa told a crowd of about 300 people at the Beverly Hilton hotel, helping kick off the three-day annual ADL national meeting. Adl

Villaraigosa then talked about Proposition 8's passage, saying it was an affront to basic civil rights. "If you think for a moment that this kind of bigotry is not connected to anti-Semitism, then you don't really understand it," the mayor said.

The conference will include, among others, talks by ADL National Director Abraham Foxman and Judea Pearl, the father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl. On Friday the ADL will give the "courageous leadership" award to LAPD First Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell.

The ADL also is using the conference to release a new poll on racial tensions in America that surveyed 1,000 adults across the nation on Oct. 26.

Some of the major findings: 66% of those surveyed said growth in minority populations will "be an advantage for America" in terms of building a strong economy, compared with 39% in 1992. Also, 35% of those surveyed said "there has been an increase in the level of tension between different racial and ethnic groups in American society," compared with 76% in 1992.

-- Ari B. Bloomekatz