The hottest of hot-button topics.

The hottest of hot-button topics.
The hottest of hot-button topics.

Click on the link here for Audio Player – NPR: National Town Meeting – Equality and Excellence – October 23, 1975 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

The 70s were an interesting year in the history of the Civil Rights Movement. Many felt the strides made in the early 1960s had stalled by 1975, and that much dragging of feet was taking place.

Two elements proved to be thorny issues which had sides equally divided – School Busing and Affirmative Action; both having to deal with our nation’s educational system.

The school integration issue, one which had been on the books since 1954, was meeting stiff resistance in various parts of the country; most notably Boston, where violent anti-busing demonstrations threatened to plunge the city into a state of Martial Law. Was a system of forced busing the only way to achieve school integration? And how was Busing working out so far?

The other was Affirmative Action, which was destined to make its way on to the agendas of several Supreme Court cases during the 1970s. Was Affirmative Action reverse Discrimination? Or was it a way of evening up the playing field? Did Affirmative Action apply to Blacks, or did it apply to other Ethnic groups and Women as well? Was the mere name Affirmative Action the subject of debate and division? What exactly did Affirmative Action mean?

These and many more questions were on the minds of most people, particularly parents of school-age children living in cities across America, as well as the children themselves.

So, on October 23rd 1975, National Public Radio, as part of the National Town Meeting Series ran an episode entitled Equality and Excellence. The panel, moderated by Roger Wilkins of The New York Times, featured Congresswoman Yvonne Burke (D-Calif), William Rusher, publisher of The National Review, and Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI).

As always, the debate is lively and is joined by members of the audience. It’s a form that’s much missed.

Here is that episode of National Town Meeting: Equality and Excellent from October 23, 1975.

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