We Won't Go Back: Making the Case for Affirmative Action

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Houghton Mifflin, 1997 - Political Science - 314 pages
In the compassionate yet frank meditation, two of America's leading voices on affirmative action make the convincing case that it is time for a more humane understanding of this controversial policy. Told from the richly personal and occasionally diverging perspectives of an African American man and an Asian American woman, We Won't Go Back offers an impassioned, generous vision for the policy's expansion - one that see affirmative action as a gain for all. Combining personal memoir, careful analysis, and the stories of those who have shaped the policy over the decades, Lawrence and Matsuda reveal what affirmative action has meant in real terms, in people's lives - from the communities that struggled for its initial passage to parents who fight today for their child's fair shot. In the process, the authors eloquently consider some of the policy's most divisive issues: How do African Americans feel about the judicial ascendancy of Clarence Thomas? Why have the majority of women remained silent on affirmative action? Do Asian Americans need the policy? How are issues of hate speech and political correctness tied to it? Perhaps most striking is the human face of affimative action today, which emerges radiantly from the stories gathered here. We meet Anthony Romero, a Latino raised by his immigrant parents in a Bronx housing project, now director of a prominent human rights organization; Robert Demmons, a trailblazer who successfully tackled discrimination in his local fire department; LaDoris Hazzard Cordell, the first African American woman to become a Superior Court judge in her county; and Bernadette Gross, a carpenter who rose triumphantly in a male-dominated profession. Their tales and others' force the question: Which people are in the room because of affirmative action, and what would we lose if they were no longer there? They also offer a searching reminder of those who wait outside the doors of continued exclusion. At its heart, We Won't Go Back is a deeply spiritual book that asks what it is that we, as Americans, value. Do we really wish to live in a world where there is no sense of generosity, caring, or community? The stories of abundant hope and grace in these pages answer with a resounding no.

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WE WON'T GO BACK: Making the Case for Affirmative Action

User Review  - Kirkus

Responding to the current wave of affirmative-action backlash, two Georgetown law professors, each proud beneficiaries of the policy, stand as zealous advocates brooking no retreat. ``Our parents ... Read full review

We won't go back: making the case for affirmative action

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Law professors Lawrence and Matsuda (Where Is Your Body, and Other Essays, LJ 12/96), a husband-and-wife team, have written a most provocative defense of affirmative action. Until now, much of the ... Read full review


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About the author (1997)

Charles R. Lawrence III is a professor of law at Georgetown University. His specialties include constitutional law, race and hate speech, and he is well-known in the legal field for his work on antidiscrimination law, equal protection and critical race theory. Lawrence's legal interests were shaped early; he has been involved in activism activities since childhood, when he and his sisters attended protests, pickets, vigils, and lectures with his parents, who were both very involved in civil rights activities. Lawrence has collaborated with another Georgetown Law professor, Mari Matsuda, on two books, We Won't Go Back: Making the Case for Affirmative Action and Words that Wound: Critical Race Theory, Assaultive Speech and the First Amendment. He is also a co-author of The Bakke Case: The Politics of Inequality, as well as a contributor to several other books. He has written numerous articles for law reviews and other journals. Lawrence received his B.A. from Haverford College and his J.D. from Yale University. He began teaching in 1974, at the University of San Francisco. While there, he was a recipient of the Law School's "Most Distinguished Professor" award. Lawrence has also taught at Stanford Law School, where he received the 1990 Hurlburt Award for Excellence in Teaching, and has been a visiting faculty member at several law schools, including Harvard, UCLA and Berkeley.

Mari J. Matsuda received her B. A. from Arizona State University, her J. D. from the University of Hawaii, and her LL. M. from Harvard University. She has taught at the University of Hiroshima, Stanford University, the University of Hawaii, University of California at Los Angeles and at Georgetown University's Law Center. Matsuda has written articles on hate speech, affirmative action and feminist concerns. Her books include "We Won't Go Back" and "Words That Wound: Critical Race Theory, Assaultive Speech and the First Amendment," both of which were written with her husband, Charles R, Lawrence.

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