This week, the US Supreme Court is expected to make a decision about the legality of affirmative action programmes that allow universities to consider race as a factor in admissions.
Detractors argue that affirmative action is unnecessary in modern America and contributes to discrimination. Proponents say the programmes remain a vital way to counter centuries of racism and inequality in America.
Just blocks away from the Supreme Court in Washington DC, a similar debate is going on about a shawl, some shards of glass, and other historic artefacts.
They're items designated for the National Museum of African American History and Culture....
But does giving each group its own museum - separate from the main Museum of American History - further segregate those who should be part of the American "melting pot" experience? Does it give special treatment to marginalised groups?
Virginia Congressman Jim Moran objected to the museum on those grounds.
"The Museum of American History is where all the white folks are going to go, and the American Indian Museum is where Indians are going to feel at home. And African Americans are going to go to their own museum. And Latinos are going to go their own museum. And that's not what America is all about," he told a Congressional committee in 2011....