Affirmative Action

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  • Affirmative action is a controversial policy of increasing the prevalence of traditionally underrepresented groups (e.g., women, racial minorities) in higher education and employment through positive steps to ensure that adequate numbers of individuals from such groups are admitted and hired. The term affirmative action was first used in an executive order issued by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. The policy was implemented in a limited fashion a few years later when President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered federal government contractors to document efforts to promote racial equality in their hiring practices. It was during the presidency of Richard M. Nixon, though, that affirmative action was first implemented on a widespread basis, starting with the 1969 Philadelphia Order. This executive order, named for the city that ...

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