Fair Employment Practices Commission
The Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC) implemented US Executive Order 8802, requiring that companies with government contracts not discriminate on the basis of race or religion. It was intended to help African Americans and other minorities obtain jobs in the homefront industry during World War II.
On June 25, 1941, President Roosevelt created the Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC) by signing Executive Order 8802, which stated, "there shall be no discrimination in the employment of workers in defense industries or government because of race, creed, color, or national origin." This was due in large part to the urging of A. Philip Randolph, who was the founding president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.
In 1943, Roosevelt greatly strengthened the FEPC with a new executive order, Executive Order 9346. It required that all government contracts have a non-discrimination clause. During World War II the federal government operated airfields, shipyards, supply centers, ammunition plants and other facilities that employed millions.
FEPC rules applied and guaranteed equality of employment rights. These facilities shut down when the war ended. In the private sector the FEPC was generally successful in enforcing non-discrimination in the North, it did not attempt to challenge segregation in the South, and in the border region its intervention led to hate strikes by angry white workers.
But Congress had never enacted FEPC into law. In 1948, President Truman called for a permanent FEPC, anti-lynching legislation, and the abolition of the poll tax. The conservative coalition in Democratic-controlled Congress prevented this. In 1950, the House approved a permanent FEPC bill.
Southern senators filibustered and the bill failed. Five states enacted and enforced their own FEPC laws: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Washington. So, overall the Fair Employment Practices Committee worked to prevent racial discrimination throughout the war.
- William J. Collins, "Race, Roosevelt, and Wartime Production: Fair Employment in World War II Labor Markets," American Economic Review 91:1 (March 2001), pp. 272–286. in JSTOR
- Finley, Keith M. Delaying the Dream: Southern Senators and the Fight Against Civil Rights, 1938-1965 (Baton Rouge, LSU Press, 2008).
- Herbert Garfinkel. When Negroes March: The March on Washington and the Organizational Politics for FEPC 1959.
- Fritz Hamer, "The Charleston Navy Yard and World War II: Implementing Executive Order 8802. 1941-1945" 2003 scholarly paper
- Michael K. Honey. Southern Labor and Black Civil Rights: Organizing Memphis Workers (1993)
- Andrew Edmund Kersten, Race, Jobs, and the War: The FEPC in the Midwest, 1941-46 (2000)
- Merl E. Reed. Seedtime for the Modern Civil Rights Movement: The President's Committee on Fair Employment Practice, 1941-1946 (1991)
- Santoro, Wayne Arthur. "The Civil Rights Movement's Struggle for Fair Employment: A "Dramatic Events-Conventional Politics" Model"
- Social Forces - Vol 81#1 (September 2002), pp. 177–206 in Project Muse.