Racial justice movement a factor for 5 state ballot measures

The Black Lives Matter movement isn’t named in any of the 120 statewide ballot measures up for a vote on Nov. 3. But this year’s nationwide protests over police brutality and racial injustice are major factors in the campaigns in several states for measures with distinctive racial themes.

In California, voters will decide whether to allow affirmative action in public hiring, contracting and college admissions — 24 years after Californians approved an initiative outlawing programs that give preference based on race and gender.

Elsewhere, the topics include a replacement for Mississippi’s Confederate-themed state flag, a proposed change in Rhode Island’s official name to remove the word “plantations,” and efforts in Nebraska and Utah to strip language from the state constitutions providing an exemption to the ban on slavery.

In California, key supporters of the new affirmative-action measure — Proposition 16 — said they weren’t sure they could get the needed two-thirds support in both legislative chambers to move forward. That changed, they said, amid the nationwide outcry over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in May.

“Before his death, it was touch and go,” said Black businessman and civil rights activist Walter Wilson. “Now there’s

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