Affirmative Action: Controversy within Higher Education

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“I have a dream,” Dr. Martin Luther King uttered, “that one day…” Every child in America learns about this dream in school. We reminisce about his dream each year as we celebrate his life and legacy, and yet the great question is how do we fulfill this dream? Because upholding segregation is against the law, some argue that we have already achieved an equal “level playing field.” That was not Dr. King’s view; he understood and tried to teach us about the lasting scars of race in this society. The story of African-Americans started with two hundred and fifty years of slavery, followed by a hundred years of legal apartheid—a separate and unequal “public accommodations.” July 2014 will mark the legal ending of this era, only fifty years ago. It took a civil rights movement with the sacrifice of many lives and the heroism of many ordinary people to end legal apartheid in this country. What is the cure for 350 years of legal injustice? President Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon believed the answer was affirmative action. Affirmative action would unlock doors— to gain admission to college, jobs, mortgages, loans, and et cetera. The institution of affirmative action would not remedy past evils, yet it would at least create opportunity for future generations. However, affirmative action immediately generated negative reactions—and nowhere so fiercely than in college admissions. Why? Admissions are limited to number and are viewed as extremely important—opening the doors to life’s successes. If affirmative actions benefit minorities, then members of the majority will be discriminated against. The college and university admissions process should be re-evaluated and re-distinguished to benefit all in society. In most cases, affirmative action po... ... middle of paper ... ... rates of 18- to 24-year-olds in degree-granting institutions, by sex and race/ethnicity: 1967 through 2006. [Digest of Education Statistics] Retrieved from Redhead, J. (1997, April 17). Jesse Jackson on prop. 209. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from United States History (n.d.). Affirmative action. Retrieved April 21 from Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia. (2014, 19 April). FL: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Retrieved April 22, 2014, from Yuill, K. L. (2006). Richard Nixon and the rise of affirmative action: The pursuit of racial equality in an era of limits. Oxford, UK: Rowan & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
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