1961 March 6

President Kennedy Issues Equal Opportunity Employment Order


President John F. Kennedy on this day issued Executive Order 10925, directing government contractors to “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed and that employees are treated during employment without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.” It is believed that this was the first time the term “affirmative action” was used in any official government policy. The order also established the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity.

Kennedy’s order did not have the force of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act behind it (see July 2, 1964). Title VII prohibited discrimination in employment. President Lyndon Johnson’s Executive Order 11246, signed on September 24, 1965, mandated affirmative action by government contractors and federal agencies and did have the force of Title VII behind it.

Read President Kennedy’s order: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/history/35th/thelaw/eo-10925.html

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

Learn more: Jo Ann Robinson, Affirmative Action: A Documentary History (2001)

Learn more: Hugh Davis Graham, The Civil Rights Era: Origins and Development of National Policy, 1960 – 1972 (1990)

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