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Affirmative Action: A History

From Kennedy's executive order 10925 to 2006's Michigan Civil Rights Initiative: A short history of the struggle for fairness in education.


The struggle to define-and achieve-equality in education

See also "The Fixer," our profile of Ward Connerly and his state-by-state campaign to end racial quotas.1865During Reconstruction, the Freedmen's Bureau is established to promise equal education and employment opportunities for former slaves.1961President Kennedy issues Executive Order 10925, designed to eliminate discrimination in federal agencies.1964President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act, outlawing discrimination of all kinds based on race, creed, color, or national origin.1972The Equal Employment Opportunity Act is passed, laying the foundation for affirmative-action laws.1978In Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, the Supreme Court rules 5 to 4 against inflexible racial quotas in college admissions.1980In Fullilove v. Klutznick, the Supreme Court rules in favor of reasonable admission and hiring quotas by allowing that 10 percent of federal funds for public works go to qualified minorities.1995President Clinton endorses federal affirmative-action policies with his message "Mend it, don't end it."1996California Proposition 209 is passed, implementing statewide bans on racial quotas in public education, employment, and contracts.1998The people of Washington State follow California in banning affirmative action, passing Initiative 200.2000Florida passes the "One Florida" plan, but incorporates a program that guarantees the top 20 percent of high school students admission to the University of Florida system.2003In two cases on the University of Michigan's admission policies, the Supreme Court finds that the school can work to create a diverse student body, but could not use race as an overriding factor in admissions.2006Voters in Michigan pass the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, resulting in a statewide ban on affirmative action in colleges and government contracting.2008Voters in Arizona, Colorado, and Nebraska will say yea or nay to affirmative-action bans in schools and government contracts on November 4.
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