Constructing Affirmative Action: The Struggle for Equal Employment Opportunity

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Between 1965, when President Lyndon B. Johnson defined affirmative action as a legitimate federal goal, and 1972, when President Richard M. Nixon named one of affirmative action's chief antagonists the head of the Department of Labor, government officials at all levels addressed racial economic inequality in earnest. Providing members of historically disadvantaged groups an equal chance at obtaining limited and competitive positions, affirmative action had the potential to alienate large numbers of white Americans, even those who had viewed school desegregation and voting rights in a positive light. Thus, affirmative action was — and continues to be — controversial.

Novel in its approach and meticulously researched, David Hamilton Golland's Constructing Affirmative Action: The Struggle for Equal Employment Opportunity bridges a sizeable gap in the literature on the history of affirmative action. Golland examines federal efforts to diversify the construction trades from the 1950s through the 1970s, offering valuable insights into the origins of affirmative action—related policy. Constructing Affirmative Action analyzes how community activism pushed the federal government to address issues of racial exclusion and marginalization in the construction industry with programs in key American cities.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"David Golland's Constructing Affirmative Action: The Struggle for Equal Employment Opportunity is a wonderful work that examines the impact of local civil rights movements on national leadership and public policy. The book explores how local groups pushed for affirmative action forcing national leaders to react. But this interaction was not always to the benefit of local leaders or the people whom they represented. Golland provides elaborate details of the politics of the Philadelphia Plan and the impact this affirmative action had on the nation."—Clarence Taylor, author of Reds at the Blackboard: Communism, Civil Rights, and the New York City Teachers Union" —

"Golland provides an in-depth historical accounting of 'bureaucratic inertia,' 'urban crisis,' development of Philadelphia Plan, and the roles of mainstreem civil rights organizations, labor, contractors, and industry... The author documents presidential politics beginning with Franklin Delano Roosevelt and refutes Richard Nixon's sincerity."— Choice" —

" Constructing Affirmative Action offers a thoughtful new interpretation, clearly presented and based on judicious research in primary sources. It will become the standard book on the struggle for equal employment opportunity in the construction trades."— Journal of American History" —

"Few historians have focused so much research on the construction industry and trade unions as one of the key sites of the modern affirmative action battle. With the U.S. Supreme Court possibly poised to overturn affirmative action, we need to see what we may lose with its dismantling."— American Historical Review" —

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Product Details

Meet the Author

David Hamilton Golland is assistant professor of history at the City University of New York. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Abbreviations xiii

Introduction 1

1 Fighting Bureaucratic Inertia, 1956-1960 7

2 Becoming the Urban Crisis, 1961-1963 35

3 Grasping at Solutions, 1964-1967 65

4 Pushing the Envelope: The Philadelphia Plans, 1967-1969 103

5 Constructing Affirmative Action, 1970-1973 143

Conclusion: Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity 171

Notes 185

Selected Bibliography 227

Index 235

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