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Selected Events in Affirmative Action History

June 29, 2003

Affirmative Actions: The Selective History of an American Idea

March 6, 1961
President John F. Kennedy issues Executive Order 10925, which introduces the term "affirmative action" and creates the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.

July 2, 1964
President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act, which, among other things, outlaws discrimination in federal programs.

September 1969
The Nixon administration develops the Philadelphia Plan, which requires contractors on federally supported projects to set minority hiring goals.

The Harvard sociologist Nathan Glazer publishes "Affirmative Discrimination," a critique of racial preferences.

The Public Works Employment Act provides $4 billion for projects in distressed areas. Ten percent of the money is reserved for minority businesses.

June 28, 1978
In Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, the Supreme Court, by a 5 to 4 majority, strikes down the racial quota system of the University of California at Davis medical school. Allan M. Bakke, a white applicant who said he was passed over by the school in favor of less qualified minority applicants, is admitted.

Dec. 16, 1985
The Justice Department fights employment quotas in federal court, supporting white firefighters and members of the engineering department of Birmingham, Ala., who say they were passed over for promotion in favor of blacks.

The United States Commission on Civil Rights calls for a one-year suspension of federal programs that reserve money or contracts for minority-owned businesses.

June 23, 1989
In City of Richmond v. Croson, the Supreme Court strikes down a plan that set aside 30 percent of contracts for minority-owned companies. The court calls affirmative action a "highly suspect tool," which must be subject to "strict scrutiny."

In "The Content of Our Character," Shelby Steele, a black scholar and essayist, argues against affirmative action.

Stephen L. Carter's book "Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby" outlines the personal costs that beneficiaries of affirmative action face.

March 18, 1996
In Hopwood v. University of Texas Law School, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit suspends an affirmative action admissions program, outlawing any preferences based on race.

Nov. 5, 1996
With a strong push by Ward Connerly, a University of California regent, Californians pass Proposition 209, which forbids any consideration of race, sex or national origin in hiring or school admissions.

April 6, 1998
Nathan Glazer says in a magazine article that he now supports affirmative action, arguing that the failure to integrate institutions would "undermine the legitimacy of American democracy."

Dec. 3, 1998
Washington State voters eliminate all preferential treatment based on race or sex in government hiring and school admissions.

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