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Constructing Affirmative Action

The Struggle for Equal Employment Opportunity

David Golland

Publication Year: 2011

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.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Series: Civil Rights and the Struggle for Black Equality in the Twentieth Century

Front cover

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pp. 1 -

Copyright page

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pp. 5 -


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pp. ix-xi

Richard Nixon wanted to be remembered as a “civil rights president” rather than “Tricky Dick” of the popular imagination. Historians such as Joan Hoff and, more recently, British scholar Kevin Yuill have nearly achieved that goal for him, noting the advances made in equal employment opportunity during the...


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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. 1-6

In April 1969, at a luncheon in Philadelphia sponsored by the Jewish Labor Committee and the Negro Trade Union Leadership Council, AFLCIO legislative director Andrew J. Biemiller stated that the embattled “labor–liberal...

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1. Fighting Bureaucratic Inertia, 1956-1960

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pp. 7-34

Thomas Bailey was a skilled brick mason living in Beacon, New York, a sleepy little town in the Hudson Valley between Peekskill and Poughkeepsie. In June 1958, when he applied for membership in the Bricklayers, Masons, and Plasterers Local #44, he was told by the union’s business agent, Andrew...

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2. Becoming the Urban Crisis, 1961-1963

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pp. 35-64

The policeman’s blackjack hit Stanford’s head—not once, but twice. Another officer struck Daniels, also in the head. The two young men fell to the street, stunned. Both were arrested. Daniels, who had been taking pictures, saw his camera confiscated...

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3. Grasping at Solutions, 1964-1967

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pp. 65-102

In 1962 James Ballard, a “twenty-two-year-old Negro Air Force veteran,” applied for an apprenticeship at the offi ce of Sheet Metal Workers Local #28 in New York City. He was dutifully asked to complete an apprenticeship application...

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pp. -

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

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pp. 103-142

In the spring of 1968, white electricians John Melleher, Joe Quinn, and John Kennedy fi led a complaint with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, claiming they had been “denied work at the United States Mint” construction site “because of their race.” These union men felt they...

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5. Constructing Affirmative Action, 1970-1973

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pp. 143-170

In 1970 three trained steamfitters—George Rios, a Puerto Rican, and Eugene Jenkins and Eric O. Lewis, both African American—were rebuffed when they attempted to obtain “A Branch” journeyman membership in New York City Steamfitters Local #638. The union refused to refer them to work, and...

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Conclusion: Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity

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pp. 171-184

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines affirmative action as “an active effort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of minority groups and......


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pp. 185-226

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 227-234


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pp. 235-248

E-ISBN-13: 9780813129983
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813129976

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Civil Rights and the Struggle for Black Equality in the Twentieth Century
Series Editor Byline: Steven F. Lawson & Cynthia G. Fleming See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 832574379
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Constructing Affirmative Action

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Discrimination in employment -- United States.
  • Minorities -- Employment -- United States.
  • Race discrimination -- United States.
  • Building trades -- United States.
  • Construction industry -- United States.
  • Affirmative action programs -- United States.
  • Minority business enterprises -- United States.
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