Cover image for The affirmative action puzzle : a living history from reconstruction to today
Title:
The affirmative action puzzle : a living history from reconstruction to today
ISBN:
9781101870877
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
xviii, 572 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 25 cm.
Contents:
Affirmative action before Kennedy -- Kennedy and Johnson -- Affirmative action spreads-and mutates -- Nixon and the Philadelphia plan -- Prejudice persists, affirmative action grows -- Marco Defunis, Allan Bakke, and Brian Weber -- Changing academia -- Backlash and defense -- Blacks and Jews divide -- Women and affirmative action -- The Reagan presidency -- The Court changes its mind -- Mend it, don't end it-or not -- Prop 209 -- Affirmative action and elections -- Seeking diversity in higher education -- Women and affirmative action II -- Other groups, here and abroad -- Bush, Obama, and Fisher -- Yes...and no...and Trump.
Summary:
Melvin Urofsky explores affirmative action in relation to sex, gender, and education and shows that nearly every public university in the country has at one time or another instituted some form of affirmative action plan-some successful, others not. Urofsky traces the evolution of affirmative action through labor and the struggle for racial equality, writing of World War I and the exodus that began when some six million African Americans moved northward between 1910 and 1960, one of the greatest internal migrations in the country's history. He describes how Harry Truman, after becoming president in 1945, fought for Roosevelt's Fair Employment Practice Act and, surprising everyone, appointed a distinguished panel to serve as the President's Commission on Civil Rights, as well as appointing the first black judge on a federal appeals court in 1948 and, by executive order later that year, ordering full racial integration in the armed forces. In this important, ambitious, far-reaching book, Urofsky writes about the affirmative action cases decided by the Supreme Court: cases that either upheld or struck down particular plans that affected both governmental and private entities. We come to fully understand the societal impact of affirmative action: how and why it has helped, and inflamed, people of all walks of life; how it has evolved; and how, and why, it is still needed. --
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Summary

Summary

A rich, multifaceted history of affirmative action from the Civil Rights Act of 1866 through today's tumultuous times

From acclaimed legal historian, author of a biography of Louis Brandeis ("Remarkable" --Anthony Lewis, The New York Review of Books , "Definitive"--Jeffrey Rosen, The New Republic ) and Dissent and the Supreme Court ("Riveting"--Dahlia Lithwick, The New York Times Book Review ), a history of affirmative action from its beginning with the Civil Rights Act of 1866 to the first use of the term in 1935 with the enactment of the National Labor Relations Act (the Wagner Act) to 1961 and John F. Kennedy's Executive Order 10925, mandating that federal contractors take "affirmative action" to ensure that there be no discrimination by "race, creed, color, or national origin" down to today's American society.

Melvin Urofsky explores affirmative action in relation to sex, gender, and education and shows that nearly every public university in the country has at one time or another instituted some form of affirmative action plan--some successful, others not.

Urofsky traces the evolution of affirmative action through labor and the struggle for racial equality, writing of World War I and the exodus that began when some six mil­lion African Americans moved northward between 1910 and 1960, one of the greatest internal migrations in the country's history.

He describes how Harry Truman, after becoming president in 1945, fought for Roosevelt's Fair Employment Practice Act and, surprising everyone, appointed a distinguished panel to serve as the President's Commission on Civil Rights, as well as appointing the first black judge on a federal appeals court in 1948 and, by executive order later that year, ordering full racial integration in the armed forces.

In this important, ambitious, far-reaching book, Urofsky writes about the affirmative action cases decided by the Supreme Court: cases that either upheld or struck down particular plans that affected both governmental and private entities. We come to fully understand the societal impact of affirmative action: how and why it has helped, and inflamed, people of all walks of life; how it has evolved; and how, and why, it is still needed.


Author Notes

MELVIN I. UROFSKY is a professor emeritus of history at Virginia Commonwealth University and was the chair of its history department. He is the editor (with David W. Levy) of the five-volume collection of Louis Brandeis's letters, as well as the author of Dissent and the Supreme Court and Louis D. Brandeis . He lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Affirmative action as policy and practice has been the subject of much debate since its inception. In this scholarly, comprehensive, thoroughly engaging study, Urofsky (Dissent and the Supreme Court, 2015) traces the legal and legislative evolution of affirmative action, from the initiatives offered under the Civil War's Freedmen's Bureau and various New Deal programs. Further on, he examines the executive orders signed by presidents Kennedy and Johnson and ends by scrutinizing our contemporary understanding and adoption of these ground-breaking laws. Urofsky reviews soft and hard approaches undertaken to legitimize affirmative action and details efforts used to correct discriminatory practices, equalize opportunities, and identify the ""protected class"" which would be covered under the policies. The primary intent of affirmative action was not just to right wrongs but also to bring about economic prosperity through equal access to education and employment. Urofsky highlights various Supreme Court cases, seminal moments, and historical individuals to convey a broader view of this consequential mandate. Urofsky presents a balanced and nuanced view of the issue on many fronts, delving into affirmation-action controversies, especially in cases involving higher education. Urofsky's extensively researched account explores the magnitude of affirmative action for the many groups which have faced discrimination.--Elizabeth Joseph Copyright 2019 Booklist


Kirkus Review

Can equality be legislated? So asks this thoroughgoing examination of legal efforts to rectify racial injustice through affirmative action.Many discussions of affirmative action have been derailed through simple confusion of terms, writes Urofsky (Emeritus, History/Virginia Commonwealth Univ.; Dissent and the Supreme Court: Its Role in the Court's History and the Nation's Constitutional Dialogue, 2015). There's "soft" affirmative action, which encourages equality by way of what amounts to goodwill, and then "hard" affirmative action, which imposes equality by way of quotas and makes it a zero-sum game. In the instance of hard affirmative action, he writes, consider what might happen if Jews were limited entrance by quota into certain professions even as, because of educational success, they lead in several areas of law, medicine, and the like. It's for that reason that when, in 1970, the federal Equal Economic Opportunity Commission began pushing for hard, quota-based reforms, "every single national Jewish organization protested." Urofsky's comprehensive survey examines early efforts at affirmative action, a phrase that appears for the first time in the 1935 Wagner Act but some of whose outlines were in place in the Reconstruction era and during World War I, when women workers replaced men in factories. Urofsky notes that while the literature has emphasized the African American experience, affirmative action has extended to include other groups and has occasioned enough controversy in most instances to lend credence to Justice Harry Blackmun's observation that "in order to get past race and gender, we have to take race and gender into account." The author doesn't stake an advocacy position, for the most part, except to note that in the strictest terms, hard/quota affirmative action is a violation of Title VII and "of the constitutional order, namely, that rights are individual." He also observes that in recent quota decisions affecting, for instance, the admission of Asian Americans into elite universities, limiting their number has had the unintended consequence of benefiting white males who otherwise might not have made the cut.A must-read for anyone interested in the history of affirmative action and its associated legal conundrums. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Library Journal Review

Urofsky (emeritus, history, Virginia Commonwealth Univ.; Dissent and the Supreme Court) seeks to provide context for understanding the history of affirmative action, along with the policy's successes and failures. The book opens with a review of the immediate challenges of abolishing slavery. Simply outlawing chattel bondage with the 13th Amendment in 1865 was not enough for some, yet clearly too much for others, Urofsky notes. Persistent arguments have ensued about what rights, remedies, and restrictions U.S. law should provide to protect people from what is considered to be discrimination, the author explains. While civil rights are often centered on race, Urofsky notes that gender, ethnicity, disability, and sexual orientation have shared in the contention that persists in demonstrating deep divisions among Americans who disagree on the meaning of discrimination. Focused on federal law, particularly U.S. Supreme Court cases, this narrative recollects continuous conflicts within an undeniably long history of disparate treatment. VERDICT This book purposely offers more questions than answers as Urofsky leads us to consider how law should best combat the legacies of racism, sexism, and ableism in order to open doors of opportunity to previously excluded groups. A thought-provoking read.--Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter 1: AFFIRMATIVE ACTION BEFORE KENNEDY   Studies of affirmative action often begin with either John F. Kennedy's Executive Order 10925 or the more important one by Lyndon Johnson a few years later. However, some forms of affirmative action--programs that would open opportunity or provide benefits for groups hitherto excluded--go back to Reconstruction following the Civil War. The phrase itself, though, was never used to describe these programs, nor did there exist a coherent set of governmental policies designed to attack racism and economic discrimination.   In the Civil Rights Act of 1866, Congress declared that "all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same rights in every State and Territory, to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to the full equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of persons and property as is enjoyed by white citizens." The law also empowered the president to use the national armed forces, if necessary, to implement these provisions and made it a federal crime to interfere with a person's exercise of civil rights.   President Andrew Johnson had no intention of using these powers, and in fact vetoed the bill, characterizing it as illegal because it contained "a distinction of race . . . made to operate in favor of the colored and against the white race." Johnson also attacked the measure as race legislation that would encourage a life of wasteful laziness for southern blacks. Johnson's veto message is worth examining, because in it one can hear the same arguments against affirmative action that will be common a century later.   Johnson disliked the citizenship provision, because it immediately made citizens of former slaves while European immigrants had to wait several years to qualify through naturalization. This "proposed a discrimination against large numbers of intelligent, worthy and patriotic foreigners in favor of the negro." He opposed federal enforcement of the rights given the freedmen, because it affords "discriminatory protection to colored persons." These arrangements "established for the security of the colored race safeguards which go infinitely beyond any that the General Government has ever provided for the white race. In fact, the distinction of race and color is by the bill made to operate in favor of the colored and against the white race." In response, Congress passed the measure over Johnson's veto. Unfortunately, no president in the rest of the nineteenth century used any of these powers, nor did any of them try to enforce the rights embedded in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution. Congress passed additional civil rights legislation in 1870, 1872, and 1875 and utilized the occupation army as well as the Freedmen's Bureau to try to give former slaves access not only to political rights but to economic opportunities as well.   As Congress took steps to provide the former slaves with oppor­tunities previously denied to them, we also see the first indications of what will later be called "white backlash" and "reverse discrimina­tion." A Florida slaveholder fumed that those who abolished slavery wanted to "give the nigger more privileges than the white man." In 1874, the Chicago Tribune ran an editorial in opposition to proposed federal legislation prohibiting racial discrimination in public accom­modations. Titled "The Nigger School?," the editorial asked, "Is it not time for the colored race to stop playing baby?" Justice Joseph Bradley in the Civil Rights Cases accused blacks of seeking preferential treatment by demanding the end of caste-like exclusions. "When a man has emerged from slavery," he lectured, "there must be some stage in the progress of his elevation when he takes the rank of a mere citizen and ceases to be the special favorite of the law."   Opposition from whites also greeted the proposed Fifteenth Amendment, which gave blacks the right to vote, and this opposition came not only from the South. Senator James Doolittle of Wisconsin argued that if the former slaves could vote, they could be voted for, and "if they can be voted for, they can be elected members of the legislature, . . . members of the Senate of the United States; generals in your army and . . . they might perhaps in the end elect some Negro as President of the United States."   In addition to constitutional amendments and civil rights stat­utes, Congress established the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, commonly called the Freedmen's Bureau. At its beginning, the agency helped both newly freed slaves and white war refugees with housing, employment, food, legal advice, and educa­tion, things that could easily be seen as part of a more modern general welfare program. The original charter ran only one year, but by the time it came up for renewal in 1866, its sole clientele were African Americans, and one scholar claims that its activities "most prefigured the race conscious remedies enacted in the 1960s and after." The bureau continued to operate under the aegis of the U.S. Army. Its task became harder as southern opposition increased, and it finally went out of business in 1872.   Frederick Douglass, the runaway slave who became an abolitionist leader, is often cited for the proposition that Negroes did not want any special treatment. In lectures to white audiences, he would ask them to let blacks sink or swim on their own and say that character, not color, was all that mattered. "Do nothing with us," he declared, "and if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also." But at the same time, he argued that before the black man could be judged on his own merits, the handicaps of years of slavery, little or no education, and lack of experience in self-government had to be erased. Special federal legislation for safeguarding the rights of the freedmen had to be maintained until they were no longer needed. "We certainly hope that the time will come when the colored man in America shall cease to require special attention," Douglass declared. "But that time has not yet come, and is not even at the door."   Nor would it be in his lifetime, or in those of his children. In 1883, the Supreme Court severely limited congressional power to protect the former slaves, and thirteen years later approved racial segregation under the rubric of separate but equal in Plessy v. Ferguson . By then, however, the abolitionists and their desire to see justice as well as freedom for the former slaves had passed from the scene. Whites in the North, while they opposed slavery, did not believe African Americans were their social or intellectual equals, and were perfectly happy to let the southern states work out whatever system of racial relations they wanted. Where there had been some protest against the Court's civil rights decision in 1883, there was scarcely a peep outside black-owned newspapers following Plessy . Race relations played no part in the nation's policy-making dialogue for the next forty years, until the Great Depression. Excerpted from The Affirmative Action Puzzle: A Living History from Reconstruction to Today by Melvin I. Urofsky All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.


Table of Contents

Introductionp. ix
Part I From Kennedy to Reagan
1 Affirmative Action Before Kennedyp. 3
2 Kennedy and Johnsonp. 31
3 Affirmative Action Spreads-and Mutatesp. 57
4 Nixon and the Philadelphia Planp. 81
5 Prejudice Persists, Affirmative Action Growsp. 103
6 Marco DeFunis, Allan Bakke, and Brian Weberp. 139
7 Changing Academiap. 157
8 Backlash and Defensep. 180
9 Blacks and Jews Dividep. 205
0 Women and Affirmative Actionp. 227
Part II From Reagan to Trump
1 The Reagan Presidencyp. 245
2 The Court Changes Its Mindp. 272
3 Mend It, Don't End It-or Notp. 298
4 Prop 209p. 313
5 Affirmative Action and Electionsp. 328
6 Seeking Diversity in Higher Educationp. 346
17 Women and Affirmative Action IIp. 375
18 Other Groups, Here and Abroadp. 393
19 Bush, Obama, and Fisherp. 412
20 Yes ... and No ... and Trumpp. 436
Acknowledgmentsp. 471
Notesp. 473
Indexp. 545