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History of Affirmative Action

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Ethics and affirmative action: Is affirmative action still an ethical policy.
Dennis Wagner
Concordia University
May 2011

Ethics and Affirmative Action Since its inception 50 years ago, affirmative action has been a topic that more divides people than unites them. Affirmative action was originally conceived as a way to right the injustices that had been foisted upon minorities for over 200 years. What started as a simple idea is still debated and litigated to this day. The main problem of affirmative action is there is no way to advance one group of people without holding another group back. Affirmative action was once a policy that was necessary to advance diversity in education and employment; however, the practice of race and gender quotas is no longer an ethical choice. This paper will examine the past, present and future of affirmative action and offer recommendations for balancing ethics with affirmative action.
Past
The first use of the term “affirmative action” was in Executive Order 10925 (Executive Order 10925, 1961). President Kennedy signed this executive order on March 6, 1961, and the order provided that the federal government and contractors should take affirmative action to ensure that hiring for all federally funded projects is conducted without racial bias (Executive Order 10925, 1961). This executive order also started the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity (Executive Order 10925, 1961). This order was mainly a passive means to prevent racial bias, and it had a limited scope, including federal employees and firms that received federal contracts. Future legislation would provide more definition for affirmative action. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the most all-encompassing legislation addressing civil rights since reconstruction. The act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion and national origin. The

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