The History of Diversity in America Known as the ¡§Melting Pot¡¨, America is a country with a more diverse population than any other. But America also has a long, painful past of discrimination that has been based on sex, race, color, disability, religion, sexual orientation and various other characteristics that stray from the average white American citizen. Through the years, government has played a major role in trying to correct the past wrongs due to discrimination by enacting legislation and adding amendments to the Constitution. The primary purpose of these measures is to enforce non-discriminating employment practices and to encourage, and sometimes force, companies to increase their representation of women and minority group members in the workplace. This move toward equal opportunity has come about through numerous measures enacted throughout our history.
A few of those policies, such as ¡§Affirmative Action¡¨, contain very controversial issues that many employers hope to see changed, or done away wi! th all together. For the present time, however, the trend continues in most every state and is enforced by law. The effects of diversity on our nation can be traced back to the civil war period. This period of upheaval is a perfect example of the struggle many Americans went through to free black slaves. The blacks were made slaves in the states for a number of reasons.
The blacks were a representation of difference, therefore the whites viewed them as being unequal. We also seem to fear that which is different, so we try to keep them down. The blacks represented such a small percentage of the population that it was easy for the white slave owners to control them. The diversity issue among the blacks and whites created a civil war within our nation that pitted friends and family against one another, and our whole nation was in turmoil. Many lives were lost fighting for the freedom of the slaves.
On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery and declared all slaves free by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation (the thirteenth amendment to our constitution).(! Sandburg, 17) An excerpt from the proclamation follows: ¡§ . . .
That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, all persons held as slaves within any state or designated part of a state, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever, free; .