The unlikely suspect in the murder of a community activist and director of a community center in Harlem is a teen from the neighborhood who got into an Ivy League school with his help.

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Jerome Warren
Curtis McClarin ...
Charles Perry
Ron Foster ...
Councilman Clayton
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Rev. Jared Young
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William Bogert ...
Prof. Arlen Howard
Denise Burse ...
Sarah Chase
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Prof. Davis Mills
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Kyle Jefferson
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Storyline

Detectives Briscoe and Curtis investigate the murder of Randall Chase who was found bludgeoned to death with a softball bat at the Haven, the community center that he ran. Chase was highly respected in the community showing many youth gang members a different path for themselves. The police suspect that he may have crossed a gang member and they learn he did accept a $5000 donation from a local hood Ricky Carter that now can't be accounted for. The police arrest Jerome Warren, now a college student thanks to the help Chase gave him. However, there is every indication that Warren was failing at school, something that was not reflected in the As that he received at the end of term. Warren is charged with murder but the defense attorney tries to use affirmative action as part of his defense. Written by garykmcd

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10 February 1999 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Quotes

Detective Lennie Briscoe: [about Affirmative Action] You wouldn't have gotten any complaints from me; it came in after I left the department and it'll still be there when I'm gone.
Detective Rey Curtis: Well you wouldn't have liked my answers. When I was filling out my application, when it asked about race, I checked 'none of the above'.
A.D.A. Abbie Carmichael: Well I'd like to think I got where I am on my own merit.
Lt. Anita Van Buren: So would I, but I got 2,000 pages of legal documents that say contrary.
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Affirmative Action On Trial.
1 January 2013 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

A well-liked community organizer in Harlem is found with his head bashed in. The detectives track down the murderer, one of the organizer's protégés who was admitted on a scholarship to an Ivy League college based on his character and race. The victim had pushed the student, Avery Waddell, beyond his limits of endurance and the kid snapped. A community college wouldn't do. Neither would CCNY. The kid had to attend an Ivy League college -- and succeed.

Waddell and his attorney, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, give sterling performances, Waddell projecting anger and resignation, and Santiago-Hudson a feverish desire to put affirmative action on trial because it led to Waddell's "extreme emotional disturbance." This curious arrangement puts the black attorney in the position of discrediting affirmative action, and Sam Waterston in the position of defending it.

The case explores the way in which a bright kid can be unprepared for the demands of an elite college. The high school he graduated from, drastically underfunded and abused, had out-dated equipment. The Encyclopedia Brittanica on the library shelves was missing three volumes. Waddell couldn't locate Europe on a map. He'd never heard of "Moby Dick" and missed all the similar allusions. He simply lacked the shared data base that students at expensive colleges take for granted. The argument is made convincingly.

Of course, the Mentor shouldn't have been murdered but he should have lessened his demands and placed Waddell in a more comfortable setting. Expensive schools can be really exacting. I studied Mandarin Chinese in two Ivy League schools, with classes beginning six days a week at eight in the morning and ending at four in the afternoon. A fellow student and I then fell to our homework, with a brief break for dinner. Typically we'd quit at one in the morning, with the assignments not yet finished. I also attended and taught at community colleges so I have a cognitive comparative scale.

Frankly, I felt sorry for Waddell's character, although we can't allow murderers to act out their disappointments. My impression, for what it's worth, is that more kids are becoming like Waddell's character than like those elite students among whom he felt so uncomfortable. A recent poll showed that a substantial percentage of seniors couldn't place the American Civil War in its correct half century. A majority of Americans can't name a single Supreme Court Justice or any decision other than Roe vs. Wade. One in five of us can't name the country we achieved our independence from. (Wrong answers included China and France.) Wait up, Waddell! We're coming!


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