Elections

In 1994, Obama argued for affirmative action, against ‘return to good old-fashioned racism’

The existence of the audio has long been rumored, but this is the first time it has been accessible to the general public. NPR archivist Jo Ella Straley made the audio public at one point, only to have the link go dead. Repeated requests by TheDC to obtain a copy of the audio went unanswered. The audio was ultimately found via high-level computer sleuthing.

The White House did not return request for comment.

Obama’s remarks, however, stand in contrast to his other, more moderate, stated positions on affirmative action. He claimed to oppose racial preferences for his own daughters and claimed to eagerly look forward to a time when affirmative action was no longer necessary.

“I would like to think that if we make good decisions and we invest in early childhood education, improved K through 12, if we have done what needs to be done to ensure that kids who are qualified to go to college can afford it, that affirmative action becomes a diminishing tool for us to achieve racial equality in this society,” he told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos during a 2008 interview.

Obama’s Department of Justice filed a “friend of the court” brief with the Supreme Court on Aug. 13, arguing in favor of racial preferences in the University of Texas’ admissions process.

Speaking at Columbia University on Feb. 23, Attorney General Eric Holder said affirmative action may never become obsolete. “The question,” Holder said, “is not when does [affirmative action] end, but when does it begin. … When do people of color truly get the benefits to which they are entitled?”

The Supreme Court case is Fisher v. University of Texas. A decision on the case is not expected for several months.

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