Access For African Americans at the University of California Los Angeles (1973-2008): An Insurgent Opposition From Bakke to Proposition 209 and the Struggle to Renew Equality of Educational Opportunity
Jonathan Royce Grady
Thesis DT 3.5 2009 G733
ix, 132 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
This thesis examines the underrepresentation of African Americans in higher education, with a focus on the University of California Los Angeles (1973-2008) from the Bakke Decision to Proposition 209. For African Americans, the pursuit of higher education has not come easy. In the fall of 2006, just 2 percent of the UCLA’s incoming class of approximately 4,800 first-year students, were African-American. With record numbers of students applying to various universities nationwide, freshmen admissions is more competitive than ever, and the formula for who gets in is even more complex. In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 209, a referendum to end Affirmative Action in public education, contracting, and hiring. Without access to race-specific considerations of affirmative action, UCLA and other public institutions must now consider reworking their admissions and recruiting criteria or continue to face low enrollment of black students.
As a scholarly pursuit, this project is framed by several questions. What are the key issues that should be considered when examining the low number of African Americans in higher education? What has been done in the past to combat these problems of underrepresentation? What is currently being done? What types of resources do African-American children receive in urban primary and secondary schools? How can society improve, inspire, and inform urban schools and the children that make up these institutions? What is still needed so that more African Americans have the opportunity to be admitted to the University of California, Los Angeles? How can schools benefit from all the resources at the levels of individuals, communities, and cultures to help develop the potential in their youth? Even in this so-called “colorless” society where the United States is more diverse than ever, minorities are still disproportionately disadvantaged throughout society in terms of health care, income and education. The struggle for access to a public school system should be to allow all children, regardless of race, socio-economic status, gender, creed, color, or disability the ability to learn in order to exercise the responsibilities of citizenship and claim their rights. In an effort to deal with many of these questions, this thesis considers the complex matrix of race, class and space as a framework for analyzing the low number of African Americans at the University of California, Los Angeles.
This study views and supports shared responsibility toward the saving of youth as a critical force for the future of the American society. There is no one simple solution. It will take collective action, commitment, and resources to begin to turn things around. It is important to devise mechanisms to inform, improve, and inspire youth, communities, and schools to promote equality for all. This project demonstrates the necessity to fix the leaks in the K- 12 education pipeline in order to improve the admissions and graduation rates of African Americans in higher education.