Executive Order 8802
Executive Order 8802 was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 25, 1941, to prohibit racial discrimination in the national defense industry. It was the first federal action, though not a law, to promote equal opportunity and prohibit employment discrimination in the United States. The President's statement that accompanied the Order cited the war effort, saying that "the democratic way of life within the nation can be defended successfully only with the help and support of all groups," and cited reports of discrimination:
There is evidence available that needed workers have been barred from industries engaged in defense production solely because of considerations of race, creed, color or national origin, to the detriment of workers' morale and of national unity.
The executive order was issued in response to pressure from civil rights activists A. Philip Randolph, Walter White, and others involved in the March on Washington Movement who had planned a march on Washington, D.C. to protest racial discrimination. The march was suspended after Executive Order 8802 was issued.
The order required federal agencies and departments involved with defense production to ensure that vocational and training programs were administered without discrimination as to "race, creed, color, or national origin." All defense contracts were to include provisions that barred private contractors from discrimination as well.
The Order established the President's Committee on Fair Employment Practice within the Office of Production Management to investigate alleged violations and "to take appropriate steps to redress grievances which it finds to be valid." The Committee was also supposed to make recommendations to federal agencies and to the President on how Executive Order 8802 could be made most effective. Following the end of World War II, the Committee was terminated by statute on July 17, 1945.
- New York Times: "President Orders and Even Break for Minorities in Defense Jobs," June 26, 1941, accessed February 4, 2012
- Catherine M. Lewis and J. Richard Lewis, Jim Crow America: A Documentary History (University of Arkansas Press, 2009), 169
- National Archives: "Executive Orders (8000-8999)", accessed February 4, 2012
- National Archives: "Franklin D. Roosevelt - 1941", accessed February 4, 2012
- Roy L. Brooks, et al., Civil Rights Litigation: Cases and Perspectives, 2nd edition, pp. 398-99. Carolina Academic Press, 2000.
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