Sunday, August 19, 2007

Turner: two takes on The Racial Integration of Emory University

William B. Turner, Emory, has posted two interesting new papers on the history of racial integration at Emory University. The first is The Racial Integration of Emory University: Ben F. Johnson, Jr., and the Humanity of Law. Here's the abstract:
This article describes the racial integration of Emory University and the subsequent creation of Pre-Start, an affirmative action program at Emory Law School from 1966 to 1972. It focuses on the initiative of the Dean of Emory Law School at the time, Ben F. Johnson, Jr. (1914-2006). Johnson played a number of leadership roles throughout his life, including successfully arguing a case before the United States Supreme Court while he was an Assistant Attorney General of Georgia, promoting legislation to create Atlanta's subway system as a state senator, and representing Emory in its lawsuit to strike down the state statute that would have rescinded its tax exemption if it admitted African American students (Emory v. Nash, 218 Ga. 317 (Ga. 1962)). This account supplements my related article on Pre-Start, “'A Bulwark against Anarchy': Affirmative Action, Emory Law School, and Southern Self-Help” (SSRN abstract 1007006), providing more information about historical context generally, and particularly about Emory v. Nash. Johnson was ambitious for Emory as a whole, and particularly for the Law School, and he saw in segregation the single largest impediment to making Emory a nationally prominent research university. The story of Emory's integration, and Johnson's leadership, requires revision of the prevailing story of integration generally, and especially of universities. Integration at Emory came about because of the pressure that African Americans and their supporters created through the civil rights movement, but Emory administrators responded to such pressure more constructively than most (e.g., Universities of Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Vanderbilt). Their actions provide an interesting case study in effective leadership during a period of significant moral and political conflict.

The second paper is 'A Bulwark Against Anarchy': Affirmative Action, Emory Law School, and Southern Self-Help. Here's the abstract:
This article presents archival evidence about Pre-Start, Emory Law School's affirmative action program from 1966 to 1972. It places that evidence into the context of current legal and scholarly debates about affirmative action in law school admissions and demonstrates that Pre-Start is an extremely important case study for anyone who wishes to think carefully about this important topic. I perform post-hoc strict scrutiny on Pre-Start, showing that it meets, not only the standard of the majority in Grutter v. Bollinger (539 U.S. 306 (2003)), but even the much more exacting standard of dissenting Justice Clarence Thomas. Because white supremacists are a chronic, anarchic threat to the rule of law, increasing the number of African American attorneys, everywhere but especially in the South, contributes to the state's role as a “bulwark against anarchy,” in Justice Thomas's phrase (539 U.S. at 353). I demonstrate that Pre-Start is an important case study in at least two other ways as well. First, very little legal discussion of affirmative action has focused on the South, yet any race-based policy will have a disproportionate impact in the South, given the region's history of slavery and segregation, and the fact that most of the nation's African Americans still live in the South. Second, opponents of affirmative action routinely characterize the originators and defenders of such policies as misguided or duplicitous. Emory administrators were neither. Pre-Start gives us the opportunity to look closely at the decisions of a group of law school administrators who ran an affirmative action program before Bakke, when neither public nor legal scrutiny was as significant as it is now. Finally, the historical context for Pre-Start demonstrates how much the current arguments against affirmative action in law school admissions resemble the arguments against racial integration of public schools in the first half of the twentieth century. This is not a claim about the intent of persons who oppose affirmative action, but a structuralist observation about the persistence of types of argument.

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