The History of the La Placita Manifesto

As told at the April 17, 1998, Roundtable on Women of Color and the Justice System

In 1992 the National Consortium of Commissions and Task Forces on Racial and Ethnic Bias in the3 Courts, which is composed of task forces and commissions from all over the country working on eliminating bias from their state court systems, began discussing the possibility of a national conference. With the support of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), the consortium applied for a State Justice Institute (SJI) grant for the conference. After numerous revisions of a proposal were submitted to the SJI, a sizable grant was finally awarded to allow the consortium, in conjunction with the NCSC, to hold a National Conference on Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Bias in the Courts.


A number of persons who were involved in the Judicial Council ‘s Advisory Committee on Racial and Ethnic Bias in the Courts and its successor committee, the Access and Fairness Advisory Committee, became members of the planning committee for the national conference. Judge Benjamin Aranda III, the founding chair of the Access and Fairness Advisory Committee, took a leading role in the planning of that first national conference. The planning committee met for more than one and a half years to develop the scope of the program and decide which areas of importance should be discussed. From the beginning of the planning stage, it was determined that the issue of "Women of Color" would be the focus of one of the workshops. However, at the last meeting of the planning committee, only two months before the conference, the "Women of Color" workshop was eliminated from the program.

The First National Conference on Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Bias in the Courts took place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in March 1995. The National Center for State Courts had anticipated that 150 participants would attend. Instead, approximately 450 participants attended the conference. The workshops were very stimulating, but a few participants felt that a workshop to discuss issues affecting women of color should have been included in the program. Without disrupting the conference or scheduling a meeting while the other workshops were taking place, these participants distributed flyers informing others that an informal gathering would take place at the La Placita Restaurant to discuss issues affecting women of color. Only two tables were reserved because only about 10 people were expected to attend. However, people kept arriving at the restaurant, and eventually 50 people, mostly women, attended to participate in the discussions.

During the discussions, Ms. Diane Yu, the former General Counsel of the California State Bar, took notes, synthesized what was discussed, and drafted a manifesto, which is now called the La Placita Manifesto. The La Placita Manifesto was presented to the conference delegates and approved by unanimous action as the work plan for exploring issues affecting women of color.

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