Affirmative Action – A Brief History

June 7, 2013

I can remember the day when I first heard about Affirmative Action. I was in a philosophy class during my sophomore year at Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas. The subject of Affirmative Action being preposterous came up during a discussion with classmates. Not wanting to be left out of the conversation, I asked what Affirmative Action was. The classmate explained to me that it’s basically hiring someone based on race as opposed to ability to perform the job.

I told myself there’s no way our country is that ridiculous, but sure enough, based on what I read, that sums up Affirmative Action. How in the heck did we ever get to this point?

On March 6, 1961 President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 10925, which included a provision that government contractors “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.” Of course Kennedy’s intent with this act was to create equal opportunity, which personally, I’m a big fan of that. In fact, President Johnson even enforced it with Executive Order 11246 seeking, and I quote “not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result.”

Just so it’s clear, the purpose of Affirmative Action is to level the playing field, not to promote inequality. However, in the end, the exact opposite has occurred, and it promotes a perception that minorities are still inferior and need to be given a boost in order to succeed in today’s world. There’s intrinsic value to be had from earning a particular position and goal, and Affirmative Action takes that away by promoting perceptions and ideas that are not as prevalent today as they were 100-200 years ago.

I can’t speak for the rest of the readers here, but I wasn’t alive during the Civil War era, and I believe many of the men and women reading this publication weren’t alive during those days either. I believe that African Americans are completely capable of competing with Whites or any other race when it comes to admission into schools or a great career! It’s all a matter of the amount of work you put into it. You get out what you put in, and that applies to any walk of life.

I don’t want to sound too naïve here, sometimes having a good reference helps people get into the door for particular jobs. I wish it wasn’t true, but it is. However, the beauty is that every man, woman, and child has opportunities to create their own path and earn these said references that will earn them a good job.

I’ve personally had supervisors of many races, and of the opposite gender, and in no way did I feel like they were inferior in any way. Of all the issues that we as a country have, I’d like to say that we’ve long since passed the days of the Civil War era. Education has been widely available for some time and I believe it’s time to set Affirmative Action aside and be able to hire someone based on their education and work ethic, not off their nationality or gender.


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