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Affirmative Action Essay

2997 words - 12 pages

Affirmative action is the nation’s most ambitious attempt to redress its long history of racial and sexual discrimination, however in modern times and approximately forty years after the establishment of this policy, society is plagued with the issues of whether affirmative action is necessary, whether it is a benefit or detriment to society, and why it incites rather then eases the nation’s internal dilemmas after so many years of having been in effect. In the following paragraphs the issues surrounding this debate, such as what is the definition of affirmative action, how and why affirmative action was established to begin with, who is affected by this policy, whether affirmative action is still necessary in today’s society or if such policy should be done away with, and, finally, possible resolutions to this dilemma, will be reviewed, beginning with the explanation of how affirmative action came about.

In March l96I, less than two months after President John F. Kennedy took office, he issued an Executive Order (10925), which established the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity. Its mission was to end discrimination in employment by the government and its contractors. The order required every federal contract to include the pledge that "The Contractor will not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, creed, color, or national origin. The Contractor will 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." (QUOTE) Here for the first time the government called for "affirmative action." Soon, thereafter the Civil Rights Act of 1964 restated and broadened the application of this principle with the Title VI, which declared that "No person in the United States shall, on the ground Or race, color or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." But within one year President Lyndon B. Johnson argued that fairness required more than a commitment to impartial treatment. In his 1965 commencement address at Howard University, he said:
"You do not take a person who for years has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, "you're free to compete with all the others," and still justly believe that you have been completely fair. Thus it is not enough just to open the gates or opportunity. All our citizens must have the ability to walk through those gates .... We seek not...just equality as a right and a theory but equality as a fact and equality as a result."
And so several months later President Johnson issued Executive Order 11246, which stated that "It is the policy of the Government of the United States to provide equal...

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