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The phrase affirmative action entered policy discourse in the United States in 1961, with President John F. Kennedy’s Executive Order 10925, which called for all federal agencies to take affirmative action to avoid discrimination in their hiring practices. However, the phrase affirmative action was not defined. The term was used again in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1965 Executive Order 11246, which revised Executive Order 10925, but it still was not officially defined. Three years later, the Department of Labor, responsible for enforcing the policy, characterized affirmative action as a program emphasizing increased opportunities for underrepresented groups through expanded applicant pools and active recruiting and outreach strategies. Since then, debates over the merits of affirmative action policies and programs have endured, underscoring differences in ethical and ...

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