Barack Obama and Affirmative Action

by E Wayne Ross on May 12, 2008

Inside Higher Ed: Barack Obama and Affirmative Action

By Richard D. Kahlenberg

Even as Barack Obama became the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee last Tuesday, his continuing failure to win white working-class voters clouds his prospects for November. The inability to connect with noncollege educated whites also undercuts his claim to being a truly transformative candidate — a Robert F. Kennedy figure — who could significantly change the direction of the country. In the fall campaign, however, Obama’s suggestion that he may be ready to change the focus of affirmative action policies in higher education — away from race to economic class — could prove pivotal in his efforts to reach working-class whites, and revive the great hopes of Bobby Kennedy’s candidacy.