In 2014 and 2015, students at dozens of colleges and universities held protests demanding increased representation of Black and Latino students and calling for a campus climate that was less hostile to students of color. Their activism recalled an earlier era: in the 1960s and 1970s, widespread campus protest by Black and Latino students contributed to the development of affirmative action and open admissions policies. Yet in the decades since, affirmative action has become a magnet for conservative backlash and in many cases has been completely dismantled.
In To Fulfill These Rights, Amaka Okechukwu offers a historically informed sociological account of the struggles over affirmative action and open admissions in higher education. Through case studies of policy retrenchment at public universities, she documents the protracted—but not always successful—rollback of inclusive policies in the context of shifting race and class politics. Okechukwu explores how conservative political actors, liberal administrators and legislators, and radical students have defined, challenged, and transformed the racial logics of colorblindness and diversity through political struggle. She highlights the voices and actions of the students fighting policy shifts in on-the-ground accounts of mobilization and activism, alongside incisive scrutiny of conservative tactics and messaging. To Fulfill These Rights provides a new analysis of the politics of higher education, centering the changing understandings and practices of race and class in the United States. It is timely and important reading at a moment when a right-wing Department of Justice and Supreme Court threaten the end of affirmative action.