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Research paper topic: Affirmative Action Works There Are Thousands Of Examples Of Situations Where People Of Color, White Women, And Working Class - 1451 words
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Affirmative action works. There are thousands of examples of situations where people of color, white women, and working class women and men of all races who were previously excluded from jobs or educational opportunities, or were denied opportunities once admitted, have gained access through affirmative action. When these policies received executive branch and judicial support, vast numbers of people of color, white women and men have gained access they would not otherwise have had. These gains have led to very real changes. Affirmative action programs have not eliminated racism, nor have they always been implemented without problems.
However, there would be no struggle to roll back the gains achieved if affirmative action policies were ineffective. The implementation of affirmative action was America's first honest attempt at solving a problem, it had previously chosen to ignore. In a variety of areas, from the quality of health care to the rate of employment, blacks still remain far behind whites. Their representation in the more prestigious professions is still almost insignificant. Comparable imbalances exist for other racial and ethnic minorities as well as for women.
Yet, to truly understand the importance of affirmative action, one must look at America's past discrimination to see why, at this point in history, we must become more color conscious. History Of Discrimination In America: Events Leading To Affirmative Action. The Declaration of Independence asserts that all men are created equal. Yet America is scarred by a long history of legally imposed inequality. Snatched from their native land, transported thousands of miles-in a nightmare of disease and death-and sold into slavery, blacks in America were reduced to the legal status of farm animals. A Supreme Court opinion, Dred Scott v.
Sandford (1857), made this official by classifying slaves as a species of private property. Even after slavery was abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, American blacks, other minorities, and women continued to be deprived of some of the most elementary right of citizenship. During the Reconstruction, after the end of the Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment was passed in 1868, making blacks citizens and promised them the equal protection of the laws. In 1870 the Fifteenth Amendment was passed, which gave blacks the right to vote. Congress also passed a number of civil rights laws barring discrimination against blacks in hotels, theaters, and other places.
However, the South reacted by passing the Black Codes, which severely limited the rights of the newly freed slaves, preventing them in most states from testifying in courts against whites, limiting their opportunities to find work, and generally assigning them to the status of second or third class citizen. White vigilante groups like the Klu Klux Klan began to appear, by murdering and terrorizing blacks who tried to exercise their new rights. Legal ways were also found for circumventing the new laws; these included grandfather clauses, poll taxes, white only primary elections, and constant social discrimination against and intimidation of blacks, who were excluded form education and from any job except the most menial. In 1883, the Supreme Court declared a key civil rights statute, one that prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, unconstitutional. And in 1896, Plessy v.
Ferguson (163 U.S. 537 ), the Court declared that the state of Louisiana had the right to segregate their races in every public facility. Thus began the heyday of Jim Crow legislation. In Justice John Marshall Harlan's lone dissent, he realized it was a mockery. He wrote, We boast of the freedom enjoyed by our peoples above all other peoples.
But it is difficult to reconcile that boast with a state of the law which, practically, puts a brand of servitude and degregation upon a large class of our fellow citizens, our equals before the law. This thin disguise of 'equal' accommodations for passengers in railroad coaches will not mislead anyone, or atone for the wrong this day done. Not until sixty years later, in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (347 U.S. 483 ), was Plessy overturned.
Chief Justice earl Warren declared the unanimous opinion of the court by saying: We cannot turn the clock back to 1868, when the Amendment was adopted, or even to 1896, when Plessy v. Ferguson was written. In today's world, separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. This decision sparked racial tensions all across America. in 1957, President Eisenhower had to call federal troops into Little Rock, Arkansas, after the state's governor forcibly barred black children from entering white schools. In 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested and fined, for not moving to the back of a public bus, setting a pattern of boycotts by black of bus companies.
And a number of sit in were being held by blacks in still segregated restaurants in the South. Responding to those and other incidents, Congress passed a variety of new laws, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Civil Rights Act of 1968. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, particularly titles VI and VII, seem to prohibit any form of racial discrimination. Affirmative action existed in obscurity for years before current-day affirmative action was executed after President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Executive Order 11246.
As conceived, current day affirmative action was to promote greater equality of opportunity by expanding access and increasing inclusiveness. President Johnson, in his 4 June 1964 commencement speech at Howard University, addressed the motivation behind Executive Order 11246, which he signed into law a few months after this speech. 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 are free to compete with all the others' and still justly believe that you have been completely fair. Adding, he said that the U.S. must have not just equality as a right and a theory but equality as a fact and equality as a result.
(Pinkerton, James P. Ending Quotas Should Help End Racism in Los Angeles Times, 4 June 1995, p. M5) 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 and Vietnam veterans 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.
The first Supreme Court case to directly deal with affirmative action was Regents of California v. Bakke (438 U.S. 265 ). Alan Bakke, a white male, was turned down for admission, even though his test scores and grades were higher that those of some candidates admitted through a special program. Bakke argued that he was a victim of reverse discrimination because he was white. Four members of the Supreme Court took the view that admission to a state medical school must be on a completely color blind basis; another four contended that a racial criteria may be used by a state for the purpose of overcoming the chronic minority underrepresentation in the medical profession.
The remaining justice, Lewis Powel, had the controlling opinion in the case. Powell agreed in part with both sides. He believed that a legitimate justification might exist for using race as a criterion in medical school admission, yet he opposed explicit racial classifications. Another landmark case about affirmative action was United Steelworkers of America v. Weber (433 U.S. 193 ). Unlike Bakke, Weber deals with a private company who voluntarily creates a affirmative action policy.
Brian Weber, a white worker, was passed over for admission to a training program in favor for a black worker less seniority. He bought suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Supreme Court ruled against Weber on two grounds: 1) the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was aimed at relieving the plight of blacks, not whites 2) the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not intend wholly to prohibit private and voluntary affirmative action efforts. 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 i ...
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