As millions of students return to school, the nation’s Justice Department (DOJ) is beginning an investigation that could potentially sue universities over affirmative action admissions policies. As first reported by the New York Times, Justice’s Civil Rights Division will carry out this effort to determine whether white applicants were discriminated against.
For Black people and other ethnic and racial minorities, this investigation seems like window-dressing to deny millions of students a quality education in the name of injustice. Such actions also signal a more subtle message is to roll back to the progress achieved in broadly affording students of all races and ethnicities the benefits that higher education derives. Among education and civil rights advocates a strong belief holds that everyone benefits when obstacles to educational opportunity are overcome.
“The American Dream offers each new generation the opportunity to build on the successes of previous ones,” wrote Nikitra Bailey, an executive vice president with the Center for Responsible Lending, in a related op-ed. “However, if you are African-American, the nation’s history of enslavement and legal bigotry consistently requires each generation to start anew.”
Bailey is correct.
Despite the vigilance of civil rights heroes over multiple generations, the heralded 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, or a series of 1960s laws that were enacted to guarantee full and first-class citizenship to every Black American, even more work remains to be done before everyone is afforded the promises of America.