Affirmative Action: Truths and Lies

Affirmative Action: Truths and Lies

By WNYC Studios

Notes from America

Monday, 16 August

Original aired: 11/23/2020

“Reverse racism” has haunted the fight for job equity for generations. How’d this bizarre idea become such a bugbear? One Supreme Court case, 50 years ago helps explain. 

This week, our reporter Marianne McCune tells the story of that case — and its aftermath — to help explain why the American workplace is still so segregated. It’s the story of an affirmative action program at an aluminum plant on the banks of the Mississippi River. Marianne introduces us to a Black family that finally found economic opportunity through the plant’s affirmative action program — and to a white man who argued that the program violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and took his case all the way to the Supreme Court. The outcome will surprise you. 

Companion listening from our archives: Two Schools In Marin County (02/06/2020) and A Secret Meeting in South Bend (02/27/2020)

“The United States of Anxiety” airs live on Sunday evenings at 6pm ET. The podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts. To catch all the action, tune into the show on Sunday nights via the stream on or tell your smart speakers to play WNYC.

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