During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s, the U.S. government enacted affirmative action measures in an effort to eradicate institutional racial discrimination. Beginning with an executive order issued by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, these government programs were authorized to equalize racial inequality and prevent further injustices. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 “prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin” (Title VII, 1964) Subsequently, an Executive Order (11246) originating from the Johnson administration in 1965, mandated affirmative action for all federally funded programs. It also moved affirmative action enforcement responsibilities to the Labor Department. (“Executive Order,” 1965). These governmental efforts to effectively outlaw institutionalized racism was a reaction necessitated by the enormous outpouring of public pressure of all races and gender during the 1950’s and 60’s. Society as a whole as well as many groups and individuals have benefited from these programs including women, those who suffer disabilities and the working class, but their principal emphasis has focused on racial discrimination.
Affirmative action was a legislative reaction initiated by the public’s outcry to racism and remains a necessary method to a balance the scales today as racism is still a prevalent oppressive force within all areas of society. The 1991 documentary, ‘True Colors,’ by Diane Sawyer filmed two friends, one black and one white, similarly educated men of the same age as they dealt with a variety of circumstances that occur in ordinary daily living. The men, acting as if they were new in town, separately tried to rent the same apartment, applied for the same job and shopped. The documentary recorded the troubling disparity in the way the two similar men were treated in identical situations. In department stores,