President John F. Kennedy inaugurated the federal policy of affirmative action with Executive Order 10295. This Executive Order, which established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, also declared that companies contracting business with the federal government needed to take "affirmative action" to hire minorities. President Johnson later expanded the government's affirmative action programs in 1965, with Executive Order, which decreed that all federal government agencies must take "affirmative action."
Since its inception, affirmative action has been a controversial policy and it has evolved over time. It has been controversial and some commentators have blamed affirmative action for causing the split in the liberal coalition that led American politics for much of the post-World War II period.
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Affirmative Action in Employment
A "Best Source" for Affirmative Action information in LexisNexis Academic is a CRS Report from 1998 included in the "Policy Papers" source. The report, Affirmative Action in Employment: Background and Current Debate, includes an in-depth background on Affirmative Action in employment since the phrase first appeared in the Wagner Act of 1935. Different ideas such as "quotas", "voluntary affirmative action", and "timetables" are included in the history section. The report also includes the "current debate" on Affirmative Action in employment from 1998.
This report along with Affirmative Action: Congressional and Presidential Activity, 1995-1998, gives a very specific portrait of Affirmative Action during the Clinton Administration. Clinton's "mend it, but don't end it" attitude of Affirmative Action in employment led him to attempt to reform the system and revitalize Americans' committedness to this issue. The report states,
He also instructed agencies to apply the following four standards to all affirmative action programs: "No quotas in theory or practice; no illegal discrimination of any kind, including reverse discrimination; no preference for people who are not qualified for any job or other opportunity; and as soon as a program has succeeded, it must be retired." The President called for the elimination or reform of any program not meeting these standards.
For a more current and less historical view of Affirmative Action, use the index to add the term "Affirmative Action in Employment" to your search on the Power Search form. You can limit your search to the past two years and choose particular sources to narrow your results set.
Affirmative Action Concepts and Diversity in Higher Education
An important tip when researching Affirmative Action concepts in Higher Education admissions is to try searching on "Diversity" instead of "Affirmative Action". The index term "Affirmative Action" will return similar results, but you may find more informative articles by incorporating the word "Diversity" into your search.
The term "Affirmative Action" refers to an idea designed to combat discrimination against minorities in our large social context. While the goal of equality remains the same, the implementation of "Affirmative Action" concepts is obviously different in institutions of higher education than in our society at large. Educational institutions require certain standards of admission that may or may not be affected by a person's minority status. Because of this, Affirmative Action is not government mandated in educational institutions, but "Diversity Goals" are encouraged. These goals are intended to provide students with a worldy, diverse, and nurturing student body and faculty. They are not intended to remedy the social issue of discrimination - something that government has an obligation to achieve. Therefore, the term "Affirmative Action" is normally reserved for a scale larger than the realm of higher education. Usually, the term "Diversity" is used when referring to incorporating more minorities into colleges and universities.
The Best Sources for articles on Diversity Goals are:
The Chronicle of Higher Education (Using the index term "Affirmative Action")
In LexisNexis Congressional, a number of different sources cover the issue of affirmative action.
A July 2007 CRS report, for example, analyzes two important cases that at the time of the report were pending before the Supreme Court. The two cases covered in the report are Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education and Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1. In this article, the authors considered Supreme Court decisions in such Landmark cases as Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, Grutter v. Bollinger, and Gratz v. Bollinger. The following link is for the bibliographic record for this article.
Constitution and Racial Diversity in Elementary and Secondary Education: A Legal Analysis of Pending Supreme Court Cases
LexisNexis Congressional also contains the full text of over 200 hearings that considered the issue of affirmative action. The hearing entitled Affirmative Action, Preferences, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1995 gives some indication of how controversial a policy affirmative action has become over the years. This hearing was held to consider the Equal Opportunity Act of 1995 which sought to bar the Federal Government from using preferences based on race and gender as a means of ending discrimination in employment and contracting toward racial minorities and women. The link below goes to the bibliographic record for this hearing.
Affirmative Action, Preferences, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1995
LexisNexis Committee Prints series, part of the LexisNexis Congressional Research Digital Collection with LexisNexis Congressional also contains many useful reports on affirmative action. An April 1982 Committee Print issued by the Senate Committeeon Labor and Human Resources, for example, studies enforcement of Federal contractor affirmative action regulations by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance. The link for the bibliographic record of this Committee Print is
Committee Analysis of Executive Order 11246 (The Affirmative Action Program)
LexisNexis UPA Collections
An early and perhaps surprising critic of affirmative action was the civil rights leader, Bayard Rustin. Rustin had been a key organizer of the March on Washington in August 1963 during which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. But in the mid-1960s, Rustin grew critical of some of the directions the movement was taking.
In the Bayard Rustin Papers, students can examine Rustin's speeches and correspondence offer students the opportunity to study the evolution of one important man's thinking on important civil rights issues like affirmative action.
The Bayard Rustin Papers
Another contemporary perspective on the early years of affirmative action can be found in
Papers of the NAACP, Supplement to Part 23: Legal Department Case Files, 1960-1972, Series B: The Northeast, Section 1.
The guide for this collection can be found at the link below
Papers of the NAACP, Supplement to Part 23: Legal Department Case Files, 1960-1972, Series B: The Northeast, Section 1: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island
Collections of presidential papers dealing with civil rights issues also contain documentation on affirmative action. These include
Civil Rights during the Nixon Administration
Civil Rights during the Carter Administration, Part 1: Papers of the Special Assistant for Black Affairs