Over the past several years, race-based opportunity policies have been on the defensive. In 2006, 58% of Michigan voters approved a statewide referendum ending affirmative action in public education.
A year later, the U.S. Supreme Court forced public school administrators to use socioeconomic status, not race, to integrate segregated public schools.
President Barack Obama injected energy into the race-versus-class debate when he suggested that poor whites should at times be given preference over more privileged blacks.
Lee C. Bollinger
Lee C. Bollinger became Columbia University's nineteenth President in 2002. A prominent Affirmative Action advocate, he played a leading role in the twin 2003 Supreme Court cases that upheld and clarified Affirmative Action in higher education. A leading First Amendment scholar, he serves on the faculty of Columbia Law School.
His awards include the National Humanitarian Award from the National Conference for Community and Justice, and the National Equal Justice Award from the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. He is a former President of the University of Michigan, where he was also Dean of the Law School and a law professor.
Julian Bond has been an activist in the movements for civil rights, economic justice, and peace since he helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1960. He has served four terms on the NAACP's National Board, and has been Chairman since 1998. He was President of the Atlanta NAACP (1978-89).
Bond serves on the board of the Southern Poverty Law Center, where he is President Emeritus, and was President and founder of the Southern Elections Fund, helping elect rural Southern black candidates. He served four terms in the Georgia House of Representatives (1965-75) and six terms in the Georgia Senate (1975-86).
Dalton Conley is a university professor of the social sciences and chair of sociology at New York University and a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow. He offers an essential understanding of how these changes have reshaped our world and our lives.
Dalton Conley's essays have appeared in numerous publications; his previous books include Being Black, Living in the Red, Honky, and The Pecking Order.
Senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and weekly columnist for the New York Sun, John McWhorter earned his Ph.D. in linguistics from Stanford University in 1993 and went on to teach at Cornell University and UC Berkeley. His academic specialty is language change and language contact.
He is the author of The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language, on how the world's languages arise, change, and mix, and Doing Our Own Thing: The Degradation of Language and Music in America and Why We Should, Like, Care.
Ray Suarez joined The NewsHour in October 1999 as a Washington-based Senior Correspondent. Suarez came to The NewsHour from NPR where he had been host of the nationwide, call-in news program "Talk of the Nation" since 1993. Prior to that, he spent seven years covering local and national stories for the NBC-owned station, WMAQ-TV in Chicago.