The Integration of the UCLA School of Law, 1966―1978: Architects of Affirmative Action

Miguel Espinoza
Format: Hardcover
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  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Lexington Books (November 15, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 1498531628
  • EAN: 9781498531627
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds


In 1966, a group of professors at the UCLA School of Law sparked the era of affirmative action by creating one of the earliest and most expansive race-conscious admissions programs in American higher education. The Legal Education Opportunity Program (LEOP), as it came to be known, served to integrate the legal profession by admitting large cohorts of minority students under non-traditional admissions standards, and sending them into courtrooms, classrooms, and boardrooms across the country as emissaries of integration upon graduation.

The LEOP was a novel idea and it worked. From its inception in 1966 to its partial demise in 1978 at the hands of a divided U.S. Supreme Court in
Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, UCLA’s LEOP graduated hundreds of students who embarked upon prolific careers, often in public service, some working as defense attorneys and prosecutors, others as non-profit leaders and academics, and others as elected officials and members of the judiciary. Together, these students bent the arc of educational equality in profound and enduring ways, and the LEOP served as a model for similar programs around the country.

The integration of America’s classrooms remains one of the most important issues facing higher education today. Since the founding of the LEOP and similar programs in the 1960s, successive generations of students, academics, and policymakers across the country have engaged in a vigorous debate over how best to realize true educational equality – a debate that inevitably turns to affirmative action. Drawing upon rich historical archives and interviews with more than 80 students and professors who helped integrate the UCLA School of Law in the 1960s and 1970s, this book argues that such programs should be reinstituted – and with haste – because
affirmative action worked.
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