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. Closely reviewing evidence of past and current enforcement, Williams presents a reinterpretation: Considerable evidence of continued discrimination exists, but weak design and limited implementation provides an incomplete picture of past and current enforcement.
Weak federal enforcement establishes a context for previously unrecognized unofficial state responses, and unofficial responses display important elements of a generic race relations ritual first chronicled in largely forgotten humanities and sociological literature from the 1960s. An important study for scholars, students, researchers, and policymakers of contemporary American education and race relations.
JOHN B. WILLIAMS is Professor of Education at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. He previously taught at Vanderbilt and Harvard. During several years at Harvard, he also served as Assistant to the President, as Assistant Dean of the Graduate School of Education, and as Interim Faculty Chairperson of the Urban Superintendents Program. For several years he served as founding director of an urban public school district-university collaborative, organizing and conducting community-based training programs aimed at improving schooling in New Jersey cities. He also has held a variety of positions in New Jersey state and federal government.
Acknowledgments Introduction Federal Aspects of Enforcement in Higher Education, 1970-90 Formal and Informal State Title VI Enforcement Patterns, 1970-90: Case Study of the Georgia State University System Mobilizing Title VI Enforcement in Mississippi, 1992-96 Planning Civil Rights Enforcement in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana Findings, Conclusions, and Recommendations Select Bibliography