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Editor’s note: Plenty of media types have chimed in on the recently released Harvard/Berkeley study that documents the impact of geography on social mobility. And it’s been widely noted—locally and nationally—that metro Atlanta ranks low when it comes to the odds of a child born into the lowest rungs of poverty growing up to be an adult in the wealthiest income bracket. To get perspective, we’re approaching experts outside the media sphere to comment on the study in general and the metro Atlanta findings in particular. Here, Michael Leo Owens, chair of the governing board of the Urban Affairs Association and associate professor of Political Science at Emory University, offers his take.
If there’s poetic justice, is there also such a thing as numeric justness? Maybe it’s mere coincidence, but James Wagner, the Emory University president who raised hackles earlier this year by penning an Emory Magazine editorial touting the Three-Fifths Compromise as an example of negotiation, got the support of three-fifths of the faculty who voted last week on a “no confidence” motion against him.
As attendees made their way to last night’s opening reception for “And the Struggle Continues,” an exhibit showcasing the Southern Christian Leadership Conference papers housed at Emory University, they passed more than four dozen student and faculty protestors. Lining the circular foyer on the third-floor landing of the Woodruff Library, the demonstrators silently presented a thicket of placards—“We are Emory,” “We are sorry,” “I deserve 5/5 respect,” “Ethics is not a brand,” "This is 5/5 outrageous." The SCLC artifacts provided an easy analogy: photos of Rev. Joseph Lowery with a bullhorn, Andrew Young walking a picket line, signs from 1968’s Resurrection City.
Wagner's piece in the Winter 2013 edition of Emory's alumni magazine used the Constitution's notorious Three-Fifths Compromise, which counts all non-free people (aka, slaves) as only three-fifths of a person, as an example of compromise at its finest.
Just as Lindsay Lohan’s dissolute ways have earned her her own Death Watch on the Internet, we have to wonder how long before Emory University President James Wagner gets his own countdown. In this case, to his firing.