Obama's Rise Sparks Affirmative Action Debate

Candidate's success has some calling for a rethink of equality policies
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2008 6:52 AM CDT
Pro and anti-affirmative action protesters on the steps of the Supreme Court after a decision backing affirmative action at universities.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama's ascent to the verge of the presidency has stoked the debate on affirmative action, the Wall Street Journal reports. Some wonder how far an African-American will have to rise for the playing field to be declared level, while others point to continued inequality and argue that Obama doesn't represent the experience of the average black American.

The scope of affirmative action programs has narrowed in recent years, but the issue remains divisive, with polls showing a sharp racial split. In states like Michigan, many working-class whites—whose support Obama will need in November—have seen African-Americans prosper and think the focus should be shifted to the poor. "I have been a supporter of affirmative action, but it needs to be refocused," says a white Obama supporter. "Other groups need to be included."