Culture Wars/Current Controversies

‘Affirmative Action Never Had a Chance’

This summer, the Supreme Court is expected to strike down the use of affirmative action in higher education, which would be the latest victory in a campaign by the Roberts Court to undo the legacy of the civil-rights movement. But as New York‘s Zak Cheney-Rice writes in this eye-opening autopsy, the concept of affirmative action has been so whittled down over the years that there won’t be all that much to mourn. There was a time when affirmative action was not just the province of the university — when even the Nixon administration, hardly a friend to the cause of equal rights, sought to intervene in the workforce on behalf of Black Americans and other marginalized people who were barred from jobs because of the color of their skin. The demise of that program belies the notion that this country ever gave affirmative action a fighting chance — and its history is a potent reminder of how much we have to do going forward.

— Ryu Spaeth, features editor, New York

Affirmative Action Never Had a Chance The conservative backlash to the civil-rights era began immediately — and now it’s nearly complete.

Photo: Higgins/Courtesy of the Special Collections Research Center. Temple University Libraries. Philadelphia, PA.

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