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Abstract

In 1964, 300,000 blacks were enrolled in the nation’s higher education system, most of them attending black colleges and universities in the South; 4,700,000 whites attended colleges during the same year. With passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Law, the federal government acknowledged an inequity in blacks’ opportunity to attend college and gave promise of becoming a major source of pressure for desegregating higher education. But the potential of Title VI, the promise of government intervention to accomplish greater equity, has never been fulfilled.

Specifically, Title VI renders discriminatory agencies and institutions, including colleges and universities, ineligible to receive federal funds. Title VI allows individuals to file civil complaints with the federal government against all colleges and universities that discriminate in formal and informal ways. It contains the threat to withdraw funds both if in dividual complainants successfully prove discrimination, and also if the federal goc’ernment, through routine monitoring, finds system-wide discrimination. But Congress, in passing the new law, gave little guidance about how to formulate remedies for system-wide segregation. Consequently, the first efforts of the Johnson Administration, in 1968, to demonstrate which colleges and universities were discriminating and to prescribe what needed to be done to achieve compliance with the new statute were characterized by uncertainty.

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