1965 September 24

President Johnson Orders Affirmative Action


President Lyndon Johnson issued Executive Order 11246 on this day, establishing affirmative action as policy for federal agencies and federal contractors. Following Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (July 2, 1964), Johnson’s ordered also established non-discrimination policies in employment with regard to race, color, religion or national origin. (President John Kennedy, in fact, had issued a more limited order on affirmative action on March 6, 1961.)

Johnson’s original Executive Order, however, did not include sex discrimination, although it was specifically included in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Feminists protested the omission and other limitations on employment opportunities for women, and Johnson issued Executive Order 11375, adding women to affirmative action policy, on October 13, 1967.

President John F. Kennedy had issued a limited executive order on affirmative action on March 6, 1961, but, without Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act barring employment discrimination, it had limited impact.

Read Executive Order 11246: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/print.php?pid=59153

Research advisory: Most web searches for Executive Order 11246 will yield an amended version that does include sex discrimination, and not the original 1965 version.

Learn more: Cynthia Harrison, On Account of Sex: The Politics of Women’s Issues, 1945–1968 (1988)

Learn more about affirmative action from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights: http://www.civilrights.org/resources/civilrights101/affirmaction.html

Learn more at a timeline on affirmative action history: http://www.infoplease.com/spot/affirmativetimeline1.html

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