In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued Executive Order #11246 at Howard University that required federal contractors to undertake affirmative action to increase the number of minorities that they employ. He wanted to ensure that minorities were recruited to have real opportunities to be hired and then eventually get a promotion. In 1969, the Department of Labor exposed widespread racial discrimination of the Construction Department so President Richard M. Nixon decided to incorporate a system of “goals and timetables” to evaluate federal construction companies according to affirmative action.

This idea of “goals and timetables” provided guidelines for companies to follow and comply with affirmative action regulations. During the presidency of Gerald R. Ford, he extended affirmative action to people with disabilities (3) and Vietnam veterans (4) but there were no goals or timetables for these two groups. This type of affirmative action required recruitment efforts, accessibility, accommodation and reviews of physical and mental job qualifications. President Jimmy Carter consolidated all federal agencies that were required by law to follow the affirmative action play into the Department of Labor. Before Carter did this, each agency handled affirmative action in its own individual way; some were not as consistent as other agencies were. He created the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program (OFCCP) in 1978 to ensure compliance with the affirmative action policies. Affirmative action began to go downhill when Ronald Reagan and later George Bush came into office. Affirmative action lost some gains it had made and was more or less ignored by the Republicans in the White House and in Congress.

Affirmative action was silently being “killed” by our federal administrators. But among this destruction there was one positive aspect, the passage of Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (5).Finally to the Presidency of Bill Clinton. The Republicans are attempting to scare people into changing their party lines by misusing affirmative action. They are saying that affirmative action is nothing more than a quota (6) or reverse discrimination (7).As you can see, there have been many additions to the policy of affirmative action. People from the Vietnam War, people with disabilities, and minority groups have made gains in the workforce but more research needs to be conducted as to the qualifications of all of these people to make sure that race is not a determining factor in the giving and receiving of jobs. The best person for the job, no matter what race, should be given the job.

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