Affirmative Action - Historical Review Research Proposal

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Affirmative Action - Historical Review

Affirmative Action is defined as the "set of public policies and initiative designed to help eliminate past and present discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." (National Organization for Women, 1995) the Civil Rights programs were enacted originally to enable African-Americans to become full citizens of the United States. The phrase 'affirmative action' was first used by President John F. Kennedy in his 1961 executive Order 10925 which made it a requirement that federal contractors "take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color or national origin. Institutions and organizations with affirmative action policies "set goals and timetables for increased diversity - and use recruitment, set-asides and preference as ways of achieving these goals. In its modern form, affirmative action can call for an admissions officer faced with two similarly qualified applicants to choose the minority over the white, or for a manager to recruit and hire a qualified woman for a job instead of a man. Affirmative action decisions are generally not supposed to be based on quotas, nor are they supposed to give any preference to unqualified candidates. And they are not supposed to harm anyone through "reverse discrimination." (Froomkin, 1998)

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TOPIC: Research Proposal on Affirmative Action - Historical Review Affirmative Action Assignment

The work of Curry and West (1996) entitled: "The Affirmative Action Debate" states that it was observed by President Lyndon B. Johnson "In far too many ways American Negroes have been another nation: deprived of freedom, crippled by hatred, the doors of opportunity closed to hope." The role of the federal government in protection of the equal rights of African-Americans was expanded during the Great Depression "through the militancy and agitation of black people." (Curry and West, 1996) Philip Randolph, a socialist and trade union leader, mobilized thousands of African-American workers in 1941 for participation in the "Negro March on Washington Movement calling upon the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt to carry out a series of reforms favorable to civil rights. To halt this mobilization, Roosevelt agreed to sign Executive Order 8802, which outlawed segregationist hiring policies by defense-related industries that held federal contracts." (Curry and West, 1996) This executive order increased the employment numbers of African-Americans and as well "expanded the political idea that government could not take a passive role in the dismantling of institutional racism." (Curry and West, 1996)

Affirmative action became a public issue in 1972 and even though the Civil Rights Act of 18964 had already instituted a type of affirmative action in the form of a remedy that could be imposed by the federal courts on violators of the Act, the original mandate set out in 1965, this really did not gain the attention of the public until Fall in the year of 1972. The Secretary of Labor was given the job through an Executive Order of the U.S. President, who at the time was Lyndon B. Johnson who issued Executive Order 11246. In 1972 the Secretary of Labor's Revised Order No. 4 fully implemented the Executive Order and made its way to college campuses via directive of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, in the beginning " administrators and faculty found the rules of Order No. 4 murky but hardly a threat to the established order. The number of racial and ethnic minorities receiving PhDs each year and thus eligible for faculty jobs was tiny. Any mandate to increase their representation on campus would require more diligent searches by universities, to be sure, but searches fated nevertheless largely to mirror past results. The Revised Order, on the other hand, effected a change that punctured any campus complacency: it included women among the "protected classes" whose "underutilization" demanded the setting of "goals" and "timetables" for "full utilization." Unlike blacks and Hispanics, women were getting PhDs in substantial and growing numbers. If the affirmative action required of federal contractors was a recipe for "proportional representation," then Revised Order No. 4 was bound to leave a large footprint on campus. Some among the professoriate exploded in a fury of opposition to the new rules, while others responded with an equally vehement defense of them." (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2005)

These events are stated to have occurred parallel to the development of the 'public turn' in philosophy. It is related that for many decades the philosophy held by the Anglo-American mindset "treated moral and political questions obliquely. On the prevailing view, philosophers were suited only to do "conceptual analysis" -- they could lay bare, for example, the conceptual architecture of the idea of justice, but they were not competent to suggest political principles, constitutional arrangements, or social policies that actually did justice. Philosophers might do "meta-ethics" but not "normative ethics." (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2005) This perception was disrupted in the 1970s for two reasons:

1) First, John Rawls published in 1971 a Theory of Justice, an elaborate, elegant, and inspiring defense of a normative theory of justice.

2) Second, in the same year Philosophy & Public Affairs, with Princeton University's impeccable pedigree, began life, a few months after Florida State's Social Theory and Practice. These journals, along with a re-tooled older periodical, Ethics, became self-conscious platforms for socially and politically engaged philosophical writing, born out of the feeling that in time of war (the Vietnam War) and social tumult (the Civil Rights Movement, Women's Liberation), philosophers ought to do, not simply talk about, ethics. (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2005)

Curry and West state that the set of policies that are identified today as 'affirmative action' were implemented nationally under the "moderate-conservative aegis of the Nixon and Ford administration of both the public and the private sectors." (1996)


The following laws are those which have been enacted to support Affirmative Action and which are applicable to educational institutions:

Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution the "equal protection clause" of the Fourteenth Amendment, which applies only to public institutions, prohibits discrimination based on race or sex.

Title Vl of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d, and regulations at 45 C.F.R. 80.1 et seq- Title Vl prohibits race discrimination in any program receiving federal funds. This law applies to both admissions and employees. Violations can result in withdrawal of federal funds or suits by private individuals.

Title Vll of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.A. 2000e et seq., and regu rations at 29 C.F.R. 1604-1606, 1608.1 et seq. - Title Vll prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin by any employer with 15 or more employees; as amended in 1972 it applies to public and private educational institutions.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. 1681 et seq., and regulations at 34 C.F.R. 106.1 et seq., 45 C.F.R. 86.1 et seq. - This law prohibits sex discrimination in all educational institutions that receive federal funding. Title IX's affirmative action provisions apply to both employment and admission of students. Violations can result in withdrawal of federal funds or suits by private individuals. Regulations promulgated under Title IX, 34 C.F.R. 106.3, authorize affirmative or remedial action in instances in which members of one sex must be treated differently to overcome the specific effects of past discrimination.

Executive Order 11246, Sept. 24, 1965, as amended by Executive Order 11375, Oct. 13, 1967, 41 C.F.R. 60-1 et seq. - This Executive Order 11246 requires federal contractors to adopt and implement "affirmative action programs" to promote attainment of equal employment objectives. It authorizes use of goals but prohibits quotas, and applies to race, religion, color, national origin, and sex. (Laws Applying to Affirmative Action in Educational Institutions, Jones (nd) AAD Project)

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the key case in the establishment of the Constitutionality and compatibility with Title VI of university admissions that are conscious of race. The constraints as follows were established by Title VII: (1) racial quotas are not allowed; (2) all students must be evaluated according to common standards, by a common admissions committee; and (3) race may not operate as an overriding factor, but only as a "plus" within "a range of factors a university properly may consider in attaining the goal of a heterogeneous student body." (44 U.S.C. 2000e-2) Title VII prohibits, an employer or union's acting "to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual's race" (42 U.S.C. 2000e-2), and the legislative history reveals proponents of Title VII vigorously denying that the law would require employers to implement racial quotas. Title VII has two purposes which are to:

1) to end employment discrimination, 2) to remedy the consequences of past discrimination so as to enable the integration of minorities into the economy.

The work of Anderson (1998) states that arguments concerning the justice of affirmative action are of three fundamental types:… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Affirmative Action - Historical Review.  (2008, December 3).  Retrieved October 25, 2021, from

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"Affirmative Action - Historical Review."  December 3, 2008.  Accessed October 25, 2021.