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Title: An Unprecedented Conversation: The Limits of President Clinton's Advisory Board on
Authors: Barnes, Taylor E.
Keywords: Text;History, Department of;Honors papers;Student research
Issue Date: May-2009
Publisher: Memphis, Tenn. : Rhodes College
Abstract: On June 14, 1997, President Clinton delivered the commencement speech at the University of California, San Diego and unveiled “One America in the 21st Century: The Presidential Initiative on Race” as the newest, and seemingly most personal, project to be undertaken by his administration. The Initiative included the creation of the President’s Advisory Board on Race, a seven-member team that would spend a year cultivating an “unprecedented conversation” about race in the United States. Despite the enthusiasm with which Clinton started the project, the Initiative and the Board have been largely absent from discussion of the Clinton presidency and civil rights. This essay seeks to explore the topic not only to shed light on a forgotten piece of history but to also systematically question the role of the executive office in racial reparation and the limits of that role. By examining primary sources such as speeches, press releases, and interdepartmental correspondence from the Clinton Presidential Library and other media v sources, it becomes evident that the Board’s disappearance from the Clinton legacy is due largely in part to its failure to live up to the expectations it created for itself. The essay deconstructs the “rhetoric of action” that the Board fashioned and maintained throughout its tenure and compares that rhetoric the actual capabilities of the Board. Ultimately, the Board was incapable of fulfilling the role it presented to the public due to both logistical, bureaucratic limitations as well as the problems inherent in attempting to resolve racial inequality, demonstrating that the executive office has, despite past success, limited effectiveness in the field of social justice in the modern United States.
Description: Received as PDF from author.
Appears in Collections:Honors Papers

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