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Anthony M. Platt

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End Game: The Rise and Fall of Affirmative Action in Higher Education

The author offers a historical analysis of affirmative action here, reviewing US “government-supported interventions” to stop and prevent systemic injustices in the last century. Platt provides examples of interventions: entitlement programs that included Civil War veterans’ benefits, World War II G.I. Bill benefits, welfare benefits from 1910 to 1920, and the New Deal public works job-creation program. These programs were all precursors to affirmative action policies that had “roots in the civil rights and feminist struggles…from the early 1950s to the mid-1970s.” Platt discusses the expansion of benefits under affirmative action, including higher education, from the almost exclusive domain of Anglo men to the inclusion of African Americans and other previously excluded racial and ethnic groups as well as women. To stop a period of contraction in the late 20th century, Platt recommends a renewal of the Civil Rights Movement constituted by a more complex set of alliances and issues. To realize the notion of “leveling the playing field” in the last part of this century, and to achieve public spaces on the job and in the schools free of discrimination based on race, gender, income, ability, age, etc., affirmative action policies were implemented.

affirmative action, higher education, race-based discrimination

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 24, No. 2 (1997): 103-118