American Political Climate Leading Up To Affirmative Action In The 1990's

2852 words - 11 pages

Affirmative ActionAmerica was founded on the principle that every man was created equal and each had their own right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, the social construct of race created a nation that saw only one kind of people as the man referred to in our Constitution; whites. Since the dawn of slavery in this nation over 350 years ago there has been an unspoken understanding about the social hierarchy by which this nation's people would abide, and the limitations of access to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that some groups could not exceed. In 1863 Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation that dismembered slavery in the United States, however, centuries later, the ghost of slavery still remains in the form of racism. Though racism within our institutions is much more transparent now than it has been historically, it is still very prevalent and very much a deterrent to non-whites in America. Thus, systems like Affirmative Action that encourage ethnic and gender diversity have been embraced by schools and employers alike in order to "even the playing field" and rectify centuries of social disadvantage by working harder to accept or hire those who have been historically disadvantaged. This paper is an examination of the history and evolution of Affirmative Action in the United States of America.In light of the Civil War, with south as a recovering portion that was occupied by union troops until 1877 (because of reconstruction), United States legislation reflected a northern sympathy for the plight of the newly freed slaves in the south. The controversial Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 that freed all slaves in the border and secession states (which lead to the Northern victory in the civil war due to their overwhelming manpower) was an obvious about face in the attitudes and policies concerning racial hierarchy in America. However, the freeing of African slaves was just the beginning of the new equal rights afforded to these people. With the additions of the Thirteenth amendment in 1865 that outlawed slavery, the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868 that "guaranteed that the states could not make or enforce any law that would 'abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens' or 'deprive any person of life, liberty, or the property, without the due process of law'", and the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870 that protected every citizen's right to vote "despite race, color or previous servitude", the recognition of the Constitutional "all men are created equal" were finally made legal realities on that same constitution. Soon after these amendments were passed, so was America's first Civil Rights Act in 1875. However, like the influx of black representation in congress during the reconstruction era, the Civil rights Act of 1875 that "guaranteed that everyone, regardless of race, or color, should be able to enjoy 'inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters and other places of public amusement'" was only a...

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