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Webster’s New World Dictionary definition of affirmative action is ‘a policy or program for correcting the effects of discrimination in the employment or education of members of certain groups.’ President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the Executive Order 11246 requiring federal contractors to use affirmative action to increase the number of minorities that are employed. He also created the Office or Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) which set out to find the exact meaning of ‘Affirmative Action’ (Woods). Affirmative action is supposed to create ways for people to experience equal opportunities in the work place and for students wanting to go to college. However, while creating equal opportunities for some, it discriminated against others.
With the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, many corporations created new ways of going around affirmative action without creating a lot of attention. Some companies created programs that would make it harder for minorities to get . One company, Duke Power Company of North Carolina, created a rule where in order to be considered for a promotion, you had to have been a high school graduate and pass 2 tests that were administered. These qualifications were mainly for the labor divisions which consisted of mainly black men. The problem being at the time only 12% of the black in North Carolina had passed high school, meaning they would not be eligible for the promotions. In 1961 it was taken to the Supreme Court and the 9 Justices unanimously agreed that this was a form a discrimination against blacks (Woods).
Besides employees, students applying for college were being affected greatly. The affirmative action programs were becoming the basis for admission to college. This was creating unfair advantages of minorities over others.
One man who felt this way was Allan Burke. Burke a 35 year old man decided to attend medical school. He applied to many schools, but was turned down because of his age. One school he applied at was University of California at Davis. The application contained a section that read, ‘Applicants from economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds are evaluated by a special subcommittee of the admissions committee.’ Whoever checked this was evaluated by a special task force which was created to bring in more minority students.
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Allan was rejected several times by Davis after his initial interview. He began to believe this was because of his race. He based this on the fact that some of the special force minorities that had lower scores than him had been accepted to the school. After many court battles, Burke won his way into Davis by rulings of the Supreme Court.