Race Discrimination in Public Higher Education: Interpreting Federal Civil Rights Enforcement, 1964-1996


After years of widely acknowledging race discrimination in higher education, American government leaders, college and university officials, and at-large citizens today question the need for civil rights laws and policies. Within an important sector of the public higher education community -- roughly nineteen states that used to operate laws separating students by race -- dispute focuses upon systemwide Title VI enforcement. Two interpretations of Title VI enforcement coexist. Among conservatives, absence of continuing discrimination and continuing good faith effort signal an end to the need for government enforcement. Among more liberal stakeholders, past enforcement has been weakly undertaken despite past and currently increasing evidence of continued discrimination.


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