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This paper examines the historical perspectives on affirmative action, diversity and multiculturalism in United States Higher Education. Affirmative action is a legal program that ensures that qualified and historically underrepresented groups, especially African Americans and women, are given preference in the hiring, promotion, and admission in colleges and universities. By contrast, diversity and multiculturalism are social constructions of reality. Diversity is an inclusion process designed to foster an environment where talents, uniqueness and differences of all people are respected and valued in schools or workplace situations. Multiculturalism is a movement that insists that American society has never been white, but always in fact multiracial and diverse. The changing demographics and the continuing potential for divisiveness will challenge our adaptability and ability to get along with each other. If we can, however, develop diversity and multicultural consciousness in ourselves, we will be much better prepared to meet these challenges and opportunities.



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