Affirmative action has been the federal governments attempt to ensure every American a chance at a good job and financial security. Since it's inception, it has been greatly debated and modified to meet the changing times. Advocates of affirmative action say women and minorities deserve government-backed preferential treatment because gains in the workplace still lag behind those of white males. Critics, on the other hand, say preferential privileges have outlived their usefulness, create a rift in race relations and lead to the unfair treatment of whites. The state of Florida, along with California, has been a leader in new affirmative action policy. Last week, governor Jeb Bush proposed banning all race-based affirmative action in Florida schools and government contracting(Bush). Under his package, any student who finishes in the top 20 percent of his or her high school class will be admitted to the state university system. According to Florida officials, at least 400 more minority students would be eligible for admission under the Bush plan, and another 800 students could qualify if they took college-prep courses. This week, in an executive order, Gov. Jeb Bush has ended affirmative action in public contracting in 13 state agencies. The same order is expected to phase out affirmative action in state college admissions(Bush2). Florida may be on the verge of following California in abolishing affirmative action as a similar citizen's initiative is pending.
Affirmative action as we know it began in 1941 with President Roosevelt, who banned racial discrimination by defense contractors, and created a committee to investigate complaints.
In 1955 Rosa Parks refused to sit in a segregated section of a public bus that sparked the civil rights movement. In 1963, more than 200,000 people took part in a march on Washington, D.C. in the name of social equality where Martin Luther King delivered his famous speech "I Have a Dream." The Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned the segregation of public facilities and was used in court actions against racial discrimination in the workplace. In 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson issued Executive Order 11246 which required contractors doing business with the federal government to practice affirmative action: conscious and deliberate efforts to bring qualified minorities into jobs and educational opportunities from which they had been traditionally excluded. In 1970, Richard Nixon's Department of Labor required companies to create goals and timetables for the increased hiring of minorities. In 1971 affirmative action was extended to include women.
In 1978, affirmative action came under attack when the U.S. Supreme Court voted on the Allan Bakke case, a white man who challenged a California medical school admission quota. The usage of quotas became illegal. In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case involving Richmond, Va., that the city's affirmative action remedy programs had...