Foxconn Package Advances, Age Discrimination At Work, Presidential Leadership On Race

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Yesterday, a state Assembly committee voted to advance the incentive package for Foxconn’s proposed manufacturing plant. We find out about the next steps and the reservations of some lawmakers. President Trump has been under scrutiny for his words in the wake of the deadly attack on demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia this week. An historian joins us to look at how other presidents have dealt with racially charged issues and the legacy of the Civil War. We also hear why a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision could make it harder to prove age discrimination in the workplace.

Featured in this Show

  • What's Next For Foxconn In Wisconsin?

    An Assembly committee approved the $3 billion incentive bill to bring Taiwanese-electronics manufacturer, Foxconn, to Wisconsin. We get the latest news from WPR State Capitol Reporter Laurel White.

  • Supreme Court And Age Discrimination

    It can be difficult to prove age discrimination in a workplace–and a guest says a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision will make it even harder for older workers to get their day in court.

  • Presidential Leadership, Race, And American History

    President Trump has been getting close attention for his response to this weekend’s white supremacist rally in Virginia. A historian looks at the way past presidents have dealt with issues of race–and the uses of civil war history in modern politics.

  • Historian Compares How US Presidents Responded On Issues Of Civil Rights, Race

    Back in 1963, the United States was at a crossroads.

    Led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights activists in Birmingham, Ala., were staging peaceful sit-ins and marches to protest segregation throughout the South. The leaders of the effort called the Birmingham Campaign were met with violence — they were bombed overnight and riots broke out.

    At the height of the crisis, President John F. Kennedy made his now-famous civil rights speech.

    “One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves. Yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free … And this nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free.”

    The speech was a precursor to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 being signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. (Kennedy served as the 35th president from 1961 to 1963, when he was assassinated.)

    But by making the address, Kennedy was also defying a large part of his voting base, according to Eric Foner, the DeWitt Clinton professor of history at Columbia University.

    “He carried most of the segregationist South in 1960, when the South was the so-called solid Democratic South,” Foner said.

    Kennedy was one of several U.S. presidents who faced racial conflicts during their time in office. The way other presidents handled civil rights issues shaped their presidencies, Foner said.

    Abraham Lincoln

    President Lincoln, as president during the Civil War, is often regarded as a champion for civil rights. But that wasn’t always so.

    “Before the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln did not support significant political and civil rights for black people,” Foner said. “He changed. He abandoned that. By the end of his life, he was much more favorably disposed to what we would consider legal and civil equality, and even black voting in some regards, than he had been.”

    Lincoln served as the 16th president from 1861 until his assassination in 1865.

    Richard Nixon

    Just five years after Kennedy’s death, Richard Nixon was elected president. But his take on racial issues was vastly different than Kennedy’s. He used fear to help him get elected, Foner said.

    “Nixon’s Southern Strategy tried to win white southerners to the Republicans away from the Democrats by appealing to racial fears,” Foner said.

    But Nixon wasn’t explicit about his racial appeals, Foner said.

    “It was usually done through surreptitious language. (Terms like) ‘law and order’ or ‘reverse discrimination,’” he said.

    Nixon served as the 37th president from 1969 to 1974, when he resigned after the historic Watergate scandals.

    Franklin D. Roosevelt

    Franklin Roosevelt carried the U.S. out of the Great Depression. But, in many instances, Foner said Roosevelt was also unwilling to address civil rights issues for fear of alienating some of his base, as well as supporters in Congress who could help pass bills.

    “FDR, who was praise-worthy on many grounds, did not really address race at all,” Foner said, “And basically said, ‘Look, I’ve got to get things through Congress, and the southern Democrats control the committees,’ so he shied away from that. His wife, Eleanor was much more forthright than he was.”

    Roosevelt served as the 32nd president from 1933 until his death in 1945.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • J. Carlisle Larsen Producer
  • Rob Ferrett Producer
  • Laurel White Guest
  • Chris Farrell Guest
  • Eric Foner Guest

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