By Lynne Eisaguirre
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Extra resources for Affirmative Action: A Reference Handbook
Court-ordered affirmative action to remedy violations of Title VII developed on a parallel track with the executive order program as another remedial effort to stop existing discrimination and prevent its recurrence. The Supreme Court's most comprehensive review of affirmative action has occurred in the employment area. Affirmative Action in Education Discrimination in education was the target of the original break-through civil rights cases. Indeed, because education is the gateway to opportunity, education has consistently been a central focus of civil rights efforts.
In addition, many colleges have traditionally limited the number of students from certain geographic locations in the name of increasing diversity. A few students may have grumbled about these policies, but they have not led to the controversy raised by affirmative action programs. Why? Perhaps because these traditional policies have not been as openly known or debated. Yet experts point to another issue: the affirmative action issue involves race. Because of our history on race relations in the United States, any discussion about affirmative action can raise a welter of emotions: guilt, anger, grief, sadness, and pain.
Civil rights activists claimed that these judicial and legislative victories were not enough to overcome long-entrenched discrimination. They cited several reasons: first, these measures frequently focused only on issues of formal rights (such as the right to vote) that were particularly susceptible to judicial or statutory resolution. In addition, formal litigation-related strategies were inevitably resource-intensive and often dependent upon clear Page 11 ''smoking gun" evidence of overt bias or bigotry, whereas prejudice can take on myriad subtle, yet effective, forms.