The success of Affirmative Action

The phrase “affirmative action” became popular during establishment of Executive Order 10925 by President John F. Kennedy. The order sought to end racial and gender discrimination during employment. For about 50 years now, affirmative action has appkued in many sectors through laws, administrative guidelines, and policies, with the intention to eliminate discrimination against race and gender. Of all the sectors, affirmative action is most critiqued in college and university admissions, particularly on the issue of racial discrimination. Overall, from a legal and historical perspective, affirmative action has succeeded in the united stated due to administration guidelines and complaints and lawsuits.

Since the establishment of the Executive Order 10925, government administrations have taken part in succeeding the affirmative action. On March 6, 1961, President John F. Kennedy created a Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, which would ensure racial discrimination was utterly avoided in all federally funded projects (Infoplease par.1). On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson’s administration enacted the Civil Rights Act, which prohibited racial discrimination of all kinds (Infoplease par.3). Therefore, formerly discriminated groups would secure job positions in industries, and their children would join colleges and universities. On July 19, 1995, the president Clinton insisted on the need for stricter measures to ensure affirmative action and delivered a speech from the White House explaining the need to reaffirm the affirmative action (Infoplease par.6). In the recent past, the Obama administration guided college and university administrations that within the Executive Order 10925, and the Civil Rights Act, they would make admission decisions with active consideration of race and ethnicity. However, the administration guidelines given by the Obama administration have been deleted by the President Trump administration.

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In retrospect, administration guidelines have shaped the implementation of affirmative action in college and university admissions, mostly leading it to success. Note that all the administrations advise institutions on how to conduct themselves. This advice is offered in two rationales. First, that college and university admissions may not regard race and ethnicity to ensure equity, and secondly, that they should consider race and ethnicity to allow more students from less privileged minority groups get a chance into colleges and universities. Effectiveness of both arguments are debatable, but they have led to significant success of affirmative action, unlike Brazil, where the government does not have the power to guide or oblige education institutions on how to tailor their policies (Lima par.3). Hence, administrations have caused the success of affirmative action in the US.

Complains and lawsuits are the second critical factor that has caused the success of affirmative action in the US. The first lawsuit concerning affirmative action dates back on June 28, 1978, during the Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (Infoplease par.3). This case landmarked the college admission policies so that they would not favor minority racial groups at the expense of the majority. For instance, in this case, Bakke, a white applicant, was disadvantaged in getting admission into the University of California since the remaining positions were reserved for the minority races (Howard 157). According to him, judging him based on race violated the 14th amendment of the US constitution concerning the equal protection of races. In this case, it was evident that there is a need for flexible quotas in the admission policies for schools such as law and medicine.

Notably, this idea has evolved to having quota systems that consider not only the race of an applicant but their talents, such as in athletics. Currently, students from minority groups may join prestigious schools on quotas that allow several positions to such groups and with added advantages such as sports. For instance, Jian Li, at Yale University, filed a case against Princeton University for rejecting his admission (de Vise par.2). Among other complaints and lawsuits, the US educational system has passively been aligned into the philosophies if affirmative action – to ensure racial equity.  More students are aware of the legal rights to joining various categories of schools, and they may file a civil right to complain anytime the affirmative action is violated.

To sum up, the US government administrations and the lawsuits are among the factors that have led to the success of affirmative action. The opinions of most presidents such as John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Obama, Clinton, Trump have all shaped the worldview of affirmative action in the US, mostly resulting in its success. Besides, cases against discrimination have caused a significant shift from quotas that would have otherwise discriminated against some races.


Works Cited

de Vise, Daniel. “Student Claims Harvard, Princeton Discriminate Against Asian-Americans.” The Washington Post, 2012, Accessed June 23 2020.

Howard, Joseph C. “A Critical Moral Analysis Of Reverse Discrimination In Light Of The Natural Law: The Allan Bakke Case”. The Linacre Quarterly, vol 75, no. 2, 2008, pp. 154-163. SAGE Publications, doi:10.1179/002436308803889594. Accessed June 23 2020.

Infoplease. “Affirmative Action History.” Infoplease, 2017, Accessed June 23 2020.

Lima, Márcia. “Affirmative Action In Brazil.” Revista.Drclas.Harvard.Edu, 2012,