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Executive Order 8802

File:"Executive Order No. 8802" Fair Employment Practice in Defense Industries - NARA - 514231.jpg
"Executive Order No. 8802", Fair Employment Practice in Defense Industries

Executive Order 8802 was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 25, 1941, to prohibit racial discrimination in the national defense industry. It was the first federal action, though not a law, to promote equal opportunity and prohibit employment discrimination in the United States. The President's statement that accompanied the Order cited the war effort, saying that "the democratic way of life within the nation can be defended successfully only with the help and support of all groups," and cited reports of discrimination:[1]

There is evidence available that needed workers have been barred from industries engaged in defense production solely because of considerations of race, creed, color or national origin, to the detriment of workers' morale and of national unity.

The executive order was issued in response to pressure from civil rights activists A. Philip Randolph, Walter White, and others involved in the March on Washington Movement who had planned a march on Washington, D.C. to protest racial discrimination. The march was suspended after Executive Order 8802 was issued.[2]

The order required federal agencies and departments involved with defense production to ensure that vocational and training programs were administered without discrimination as to "race, creed, color, or national origin." All defense contracts were to include provisions that barred private contractors from discrimination as well.

The Order established the President's Committee on Fair Employment Practice within the Office of Production Management to investigate alleged violations and "to take appropriate steps to redress grievances which it finds to be valid." The Committee was also supposed to make recommendations to federal agencies and to the President on how Executive Order 8802 could be made most effective. Following the end of World War II, the Committee was terminated by statute on July 17, 1945.[3]

Starting with this section:

"Whereas it is the policy of the United States to encourage full participation in the national defense program by all citizens of the United States, regardless of race, creed, color, or national origin, in the firm belief that the democratic way of life within the Nation can be defended successfully only with the help and support of all groups within its borders;"

Franklin D. Roosevelt was making his administration's position on exclusivity of treatment. The most poignant of these sections says:

"Now, Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the statutes, and as a prerequisite to the successful conduct of our national defense production effort, I do hereby reaffirm the policy of the United States that there shall be no discrimination in the employment of workers in defense industries or government because of race, creed, color, or national origin, and I do hereby declare that it is the duty of employers and of labor organizations, in furtherance of said policy and of this Order, to provide for the full and equitable participation of all workers in defense industries, without discrimination because of race, creed, color, or national origin..."

All these statements are aimed towards abolishing racism within the Department of Defense and its sister departments. [4]

Executive Order 8802 was amended several times[5] and superseded by Executive Order 9981 in 1948 and years later by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and Executive Order 11246 in 1965.[6]

See also


  1. ^ New York Times: "President Orders and Even Break for Minorities in Defense Jobs," June 26, 1941, accessed February 4, 2012
  2. ^ Catherine M. Lewis and J. Richard Lewis, Jim Crow America: A Documentary History (University of Arkansas Press, 2009), 169
  3. ^ National Archives: "Executive Orders (8000-8999)", accessed February 4, 2012
  4. ^ Roosevelt, Franklin. "Executive Order 8802 - Prohibition of Discrimination in the Defense Industry". Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  5. ^ National Archives: "Franklin D. Roosevelt - 1941", accessed February 4, 2012
  6. ^ Roy L. Brooks, et al., Civil Rights Litigation: Cases and Perspectives, 2nd edition, pp. 398-99. Carolina Academic Press, 2000.

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