Past Present Podcast: Higher Ed & the GOP, the Reverse Great Migration, and Immigration in California

Immigrant Sign

On this week’s episode of Past Present, Neil, Niki, and Natalia debate Republicans’ increasing distrust of higher education, the reverse Great Migration of African Americans to the South, and the last remaining fleeing immigrants sign in California.

Higher Ed + the GOP

A recent Pew poll revealed that a majority of Republicans think colleges have a negative impact on the nation. We discussed the history of conservative criticism of American universities, including William Buckley’s famous polemic, God and Man at Yale. Natalia mentioned the historian Nancy McLean’s recent allegations that there’s a Koch-funded effort to discredit her work and that of other liberal scholars. We have discussed other university-related topics in previous episodes, including segments on intersectionality and on political correctness.

The Reverse Great Migration

Writing in the New York Times Sunday Review, Reniqua Allen argued that since racism is everywhere, African Americans might as well move back to the South. Allen’s article highlights the “reverse Great Migration” that has seen African Americans returning to the South for the last several decades. Natalia mentioned Edward Ayers’ book, The Promise of the New South, as a seminal work for understanding the changing South in the twentieth century. Neil commented on the cultural representations of Atlanta as a modern “black mecca,” including the Real Housewives of Atlanta and the Hulu series Atlanta.

Immigration in California

A story in the Los Angeles Times documented the last remaining immigrants fleeing sign just north of the Mexican border. (You can see an image of the sign here.) While Latinos have dominated the American conversation about undocumented immigrants, Niki shared Carly Goodman’s recent Washington Post piece on the preponderance of undocumented Irish immigrants in the U.S. in the 1980s. Natalia noted a recent Boston Globe article showed some of these undocumented Irish were being deported under Trump’s immigration executive order. Natalia added that despite the diversity of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., Latinos were still depicted as presenting a “distinct” challenge, as Samuel Huntington argued in a 2004 Foreign Policy article.

What’s Making History


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