Arthur Fletcher

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For other people of the same name, see Arthur Fletcher (disambiguation).
Arthur Fletcher
Chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights
In office
Preceded by William B. Allen
Succeeded by Mary Frances Berry
Personal details
Born (1924-12-22)December 22, 1924
Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Died July 12, 2005(2005-07-12) (aged 80)
Washington, D.C.
Political party Republican
Alma mater Washburn University
La Salle Extension University
Occupation Government official
Head of the United Negro College Fund
Religion United Methodist

Arthur Fletcher (December 22, 1924 in Phoenix, Arizona – July 12, 2005 in Washington DC) was an American government official, widely referred to as the "father of affirmative action" as he was largely responsible for the Revised Philadelphia Plan.

Life and career[edit]

Fletcher, a Republican, graduated from Washburn University and obtained a degree from distance learning school La Salle Extension University.[1]

He ran for lieutenant governor in Washington State in 1968 but lost to John Cherberg.[2] During the campaign, his driver and bodyguard was Ted Bundy, the serial killer who was at the time active in Republican Party politics in the late 1960s through the early 1970s.[3]

An African American, he served in the Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and George H. W. Bush administrations.[4]

In 1978, he ran unsuccessfully for mayor, having been defeated by the popular Democrat Marion Barry.[5] In 1995, he briefly pursued a bid for the Republican presidential nomination.[6]

Numbers of his fellow Republicans were often at odds with the affirmative action policies which Fletcher initiated[7] and supported as the chairman from 1990 to 1993 of the United States Commission on Civil Rights

As head of the United Negro College Fund, Fletcher coined the famous slogan, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."[8]


  1. ^ Holley, Joe (July 14, 2005). Affirmative Action Pioneer Advised GOP Presidents. Washington Post
  2. ^ Mcgann, Chris (July 12, 2005)
  3. ^ Rule, Ann. The Stranger Beside Me pg. 15. 1980. Penguin Putnam. New York, NY.
  4. ^ NPR obituary, in RealAudio or for Windows Media Player. Accessed 20 July 2005.
  5. ^ "Barry Gets 71 Pct. for Mayor of D.C.". Youngstown Vindicator, via Google News. Associated Press. November 8, 1978. 
  6. ^ NPR commentary by his granddaughter, KUOW-FM reporter and producer Phyllis Fletcher. Accessed 20 June 2006.
  7. ^ Presidential adviser Arthur Fletcher, 80, dies, obituary on MSN. Accessed 20 July 2005.
  8. ^ Arthur Fletcher on Accessed 20 July 2005.
Political offices
Preceded by
William B. Allen
Chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights

Arthur Fletcher

Succeeded by
Mary Frances Berry